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Written by OUR CORRESPONDENT
ADDIS ABABA —The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and leading medical journal The Lancet have convened a new commission of political and health leaders to explore the post-2015 agenda of AIDS and global health.
The UNAIDS and Lancet Commission: From AIDS to Sustainable Health will be co-chaired by Malawi Pres. Joyce Banda, African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Director Peter Piot.
“In just a decade, I have witnessed countries move from despair to the conviction that we can end this epidemic,” said President Joyce Banda. “This Commission can offer a way forward that allows us to accelerate our march towards the end of AIDS.”
Informed by a diverse group of HIV and health experts, young people, activists and political leaders, and drawing upon insights gained from online crowd-sourcing and engagement with constituencies, the Commission will deliberate on strategies to ensure that the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths can be realized in the coming decades.
“Our work now must focus on how to bring the best minds and hearts together to end this epidemic.” said Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. “We have seen the devastation that AIDS has wrought—now let our humanity overcome it and lead us to a brighter future.”
The Commission will also closely examine the new tenets for better global health results—including issues such as social equality for marginalised populations, empowering communities to demand better health services and accelerating access to affordable, quality medicines.
“As a new agenda for development is being shaped, it is time for serious thought on how the extraordinary lessons from the AIDS response can be brought to bear to transform global health,” said Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The Commission will have the opportunity to systematically reflect on evidence and make recommendations. Building on on-going consultations and the findings of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the recommendations will contribute to the deliberations of UN Member States. The Commission’s work will culminate in a report published by the Lancet in early 2014.
“In so many important ways, the AIDS movement created global health. Now, as the MDG era comes to a close, the AIDS movement once again has an opportunity to use its great success and influence to shape a new epoch of sustainable development. Our joint Commission with UNAIDS aims to set out possible futures for the AIDS epidemic and the role of the AIDS community in reinventing global health for the new and more complex challenges of the 21st century,” said Richard Horton, Editor in Chief of The Lancet.
The Post-2015 agenda builds on the original eight Millennium Development Goals that Member States agreed to in 2000, of which Goal 6 is focused on the AIDS response.
“Ending AIDS is a dream that is entirely possible,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “The AIDS response has brought the world together to create a vision of shared responsibility and global solidarity—we have the opportunity now to harness this momentum and build a sustainable future, a future without AIDS.”
The first meeting of the Commission will be hosted by Pres. Banda in Lilongwe, Malawi on 28-29 June.