And the winner is…
When the Caregivers Action Network (CAN) finally gets down to nominating a goodwill ambassador, it seems to me that Stephen O’Brien, the UK Minister for the Department for International Development, would be a good candidate. I say this because in an answer he gave on HIV/AIDS in the House of Commons on Wednesday, he said: “In addition to prevention and treatment…we want to ensure that care and support, which has often been the neglected area of HIV campaigning, is addressed too.” So when I saw Stephen O’Brien at the High Level Meeting (HLM) in New York, the following day, I seized the opportunity to congratulate him for having drawn attention to caregivers.
Elsewhere at the HLM, in a session on women and girls and HIV, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi Minister of Health for South Africa pronounced that: “The future of any child depends on who the mother is”. This statement captures the mood at the HLM, which is really a breath of fresh air, given that over 50% of people living with HIV are women. Despite the tug-of-war between civil society organisations and governments on what their commitments should be, it is becoming clear that the likely winners from this meeting will be women and girls.
I also attended a meeting of CSO representatives working on a draft statement on women and girls. Activists working for women’s organisations made it very clear that the trend of more women becoming infected had to be halted.
Governments welcome the Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health that will mirror the Global Fund programme in terms of funding and implementation. Its aim is to significantly reduce the number of maternal newborn and under-five child deaths “as a matter of immediate concern”. This is one topic that both governments and CSOs fully agree and if implemented, will go a long way in injecting the much needed momentum in the system.