The assembly hall of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, was the stage for the 37th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) with the participation of 22 member states, 11 cosponsors and 5 NGOs. Other governments and observer NGOs were also present.

The approval of the UNAIDS strategy was one of the main points of order at this meeting of enormous relevance in the response to AIDS in the next years, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

César Núñez, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Latin America, said: “The UNAIDS strategy for 2016-2021 is one of the first in the United Nations system to be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, which establish the global development policy framework for the next fifteen years, and which include putting an end to the AIDS epidemic by 2030. This strategy forces us to tackle the fundamental ties that exist between health, injustice, inequality, poverty and conflict.”

Corresponsales Clave also spoke to Simón Cazal, executive director of SOMOSGAY in Paraguay, a delegate of the Latin American NGOs on the Board. Cazal believes that “the two key and complex points that were discussed at the meeting were the UNAIDS Fast Track Strategy and the UBRAF (Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework). Both documents are of vital importance for the future of the global response to HIV because they are guidelines for the next steps to be taken, scientifically and financially, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, also recently adopted.”

CC: How were these points discussed in terms of consensus and disagreement?

SC: (…) There was a broad debate, due to the refusal of members of conservative states (such as) Tanzania, Iran and Egypt (the latter as an observer) to include the term Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, because of the political, social and cultural implications involved in adopting these terms. At first, Tanzania expressed its disagreement on behalf of the African block. After much negotiation and deliberation. Tanzania was left on its own in this position, with the other countries mentioned. It was eventually decided that a table would be inserted on the left hand side margin, at the start of the document, clarifying the reservations of those countries. Reaching an agreement and adopting the Strategy took us a long time; from the NGO delegation, where we also had representatives from the regions of the countries in disagreement, we pressed, advocated and demanded at all times the adoption of the term “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights”, as well as the terms “LGBT populations”. At the end of the discussions and negotiations, the strategy was adopted by all Board members.

With regards to the UBRAF, Cazal commented that there was an intense debate on the funding required to implement a framework of results and accountability that reflects what has to be done. The United Kingdom, India and the United States urged the countries and cosponsors to invest more resources to guarantee the UBRAF, while the Netherlands and Denmark said that the cosponsors should have better accountability, both towards the PCB and in the countries where they are working.

“We, at the NGOs delegation, were grateful that most of our proposals were incorporated into the document and we voiced the need for a Fast Track process for money, not just for language. (…) The observer NGOs voiced their concern over treatment for children, the withdrawal of the Global Fund from the countries, young people, key populations, investment in the communities, drug users, and persons who live in prison and confined places,” said Cazal. The SOMOSGAY delegate added: “We must also highlight the active. strategic and judicious participation of the governments of Brazil and El Salvador as Latin American members of the Board. At all times they expressed their support on the points in question and on the importance of civil society organizations and the need to eradicate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, LGBT persons and key populations.”

CC: In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, how do we continue the work from communities and governments?

SC: In the region we work on many things: the virtual socialization of documents and consultations making use of the new information and communication technologies, as well as contact with social organizations that work in HIV, whether in advocacy or in service delivery. The idea is that we should be able, as a region, to continue this work and do so in an increasingly connected, unified and strengthened way, so that we can find out what is going on in various places around the world and carry out strategic advocacy actions there.

Last of all, the NGO delegate for Latin America singled out the election of Ecuador as rapporteur on the PCB next year, which places both Ecuador and the region in a position of political responsibility. This will allow us to keep in the discussions agenda what was said and repeated as a delegation at the meeting and it will also help us not to be left behind as a region, as an LGBT community or as civil society organizations.

About Fast Track

The Fast Track document that sustains the strategy states that “There is a strong global consensus that the tools now exist to end the AIDS epidemic. This confidence is based on a combination of major scientific breakthroughs and accumulated lessons learned over more than a decade of scaling up the AIDS response worldwide. The achievement of targets built on these tools now needs to be fast-tracked.”

It is possible to bring an end to the epidemic by fast-tracking access to treatment, which has been translated into the 90-90-90 goals, as well as the reduction to 500,000 new infections in adults globally and the elimination of stigma and discrimination, and these must be the fundamental pillars that guide the AIDS response.

About the UNAIDS PCB

The UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board acts as a governing body in all programme matters pertaining to UNAIDS policy, strategy, finance, monitoring and evaluation. Its roles are:

- To establish general UNAIDS policies and priorities, taking into account what is set out in General Assembly Resolution 47/199;
- To review and decide on UNAIDS planning and implementation.
- To review and approve the action plan and budget for each financial year, prepared by the Executive Director and reviewed by the CCO;
- To review the Executive Director’s proposals and approve agreements for UNAIDS financing;
- To review long-term action plans and their financial implications;
- To review audited financial reports submitted by UNAIDS;
- To make recommendations to the Cosponsoring Organizations regarding their UNAIDS support activities and;
- To review periodic reports that will evaluate the progress of UNAIDS to achieve goals.

You can follow the discussions on the approved strategy and the UNAIDS PCB at this Facebook group (in Spanish).

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