UN: African ministers, participants urge global action to end pediatric AIDS

New York, US (PANA) - African health ministers, leaders of pediatric HIV treatment programme, philanthropic foundations, civil society and private sector partners have called for an expanded global partnership to end pediatric AIDS.

The ministers and participants, who spoke at a side event on Wednesday, on the margins of the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending HIV/AIDS, taking place at the UN headquarters in New York, said that the partnership will support successes achieved in closing HIV treatment gaps for children.

In a statement issued at the end of the event, the participants said many countries have made important strides towards ending pediatric AIDS, but major challenges persist.

"Even as the number of children newly infected with HIV continues to decline, only about half of HIV-exposed children are tested for HIV within the first two months of life and only 30 per cent of children living with HIV are linked to HIV treatment in a timely manner.

"Because far too many children living with HIV begin treatment too late, children are far more likely than adults living with HIV to die of AIDS-related illnesses," they stated.

The statement quoted Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the HIV department at the World Health Organization (WHO), as calling for increased community engagement to accelerate testing and treatment uptake and increased use of integrated, family-centred models of care.

Others, he said, are smart and accelerated introduction of key technological innovations, such as point-of-care diagnostic technologies for infants, and an expanded array of child-appropriate anti-retroviral formulations.

He also called for strengthened collection and use of age-disaggregated data to inform treatment forecasts and programmatic strategies.

The participants also stressed the need for improved coordination of the many efforts being undertaken to address various aspects of pediatric HIV treatment.

They said: "To achieve the Fast-Track Targets for children and to sustain these gains over time, new resources will be needed, and several countries are taking steps to increase domestic allocations for pediatric HIV treatment."

"Namibia, for example, covers 60 per cent of its national AIDS response with domestic resources, while Felix Kabange Numbi, Minister of Public Health for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reported that his country is pledging to increase domestic resources for AIDS," they noted.

The statement disclosed that, the meeting agreed that philanthropy offers a potentially important avenue to generate new resources for pediatric HIV treatment.

In that regard, New York-based ELMA Philanthropies is allocating US$12.5-15 million per year for at least the next three years to support HIV treatment programmes for children, with a comparable amount to be invested in supportive programmes for childhood development.

Also, during an interactive conversation among the meeting participants, speakers emphasized the importance of involving families, communities and civil society organizations.

There was also agreement regarding the need to engage the private sector in efforts to develop new pediatric treatment tools and fund programmes to close gaps across the continuum of care for children.

The statement disclosed that, Medicines Patent Pool, which has prioritized pediatric HIV treatment in its negotiations of licences for the generic manufacture of priority anti-retroviral medicines, is an example of how innovative approaches to private sector involvement can contribute to improved access to essential treatments.

At a major global ministerial meeting in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in May, African health ministers endorsed a Fast-Track approach for children.

The approach called for reaching a 95 per cent coverage of anti-retroviral therapy for both pregnant women and children living with HIV by 2018, noting that, by reaching this target, the world could effectively end pediatric AIDS by 2020 - one decade earlier than the elimination goal for the epidemic as a whole.

PANA learnt that, to reach these ambitious targets, participants at this week’s high-level meeting in New York, in a working document, stressed the importance of a renewed, expanded, inclusive global partnership to close the pediatric HIV treatment gap.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 8June2016

08 Junho 2016 14:56:03

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