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[afro-nets] Abuja+ 5, UNGASS +5 and Universal Access

  • From: Omololu Falobi <omololu@nigeria-aids.org>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 05:45:09 +0100

Abuja+ 5, UNGASS +5 and Universal Access: What every African
AIDS activist should know

Prepared by the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS

Question 1: What is 'Universal Access'?

Answer: Universal Access is the idea that everyone has a right
to the prevention, care, support and treatment related to HIV
and AIDS. The term was coined at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in
2005 when the G8 leaders pledged $50 billion towards AIDS and
agreed that "[we will work to] significantly reduce HIV infec-
tions and, working with WHO, UNAIDS and other international bod-
ies to develop and implement a package for HIV prevention,
treatment and care, with the aim of as close as possible to uni-
versal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010."
$25 billion of this money was pledged to Africa.

Since the G8 met, many people have been talking about the next
phase of AIDS activism. There is consensus that the world must
now focus on scaling up towards Universal Access. African civil
society organisations agree with the broad principle of Univer-
sal Access - that all people in the world must have access to
health, education, clean water, shelter and a range of other
services. However, it is also clear that Universal Access will
only be achieved if leaders agree on specific targets to measure
progress towards universal access. It has been suggested that
targets should be developed at a national level. However, many
African civil society groups do not want governments to set tar-
gets a) without their involvement and; b) without a broad global
goal to guide them. Therefore African civil society groups want
7 million Africans to be on treatment by 2010. These groups also
want to ensure access to Prevention of Mother to Child Transmis-
sion (PMTCT) programmes for all pregnant women living with AIDS
in Africa by 2010.

Question 2: What is the Abuja Heads of States Summit about?

Answer: On May 2 -4, 2006 African leaders will meet in Abuja, at
a Heads of States Summit. The meeting will focus on whether
leaders have kept the promises they made on behalf of their gov-
ernments five years ago in the Abuja Declaration and Plan of Ac-
tion on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Dis-
eases (ORID). In the Declaration, African Heads of States made a
number of commitments including that that they would spend at
least 15% of their national budgets on health by 2006.

Question 3: Why is the Abuja Declaration important?

Answer: The Declaration is very important because it is an Afri-
can document, which means that the African Union takes the Dec-
laration very seriously and has an obligation to report on pro-
gress towards its implementation.

Question 4: Has there been any progress on the progress made in
the Abuja Declaration?

Answer: According to the African Union only two African coun-
tries - Botswana and the Gambia - reached the target of 15% of
health spending within their national budgets by 2004. However,
a Shadow Report produced by ActionAid demonstrates that when
debt repayments are factored in, not a single African country
would have reached the target set in 2001.

Question 5: What is the link between Universal Access, the Abuja
Summit and the UNGASS Review meeting?

Answer: The Abuja Summit will be an important space for deciding
on Africa's position on Universal Access. The discussions at the
Summit will be critical in shaping the positions of African
countries as they prepare to go to New York to participate in
the review of the Declaration of Commitment. This is why the
language suggested in the answer to Question 6 below is very im-

The Abuja Summit and the UNGASS Review will not come up with any
new Declarations. Government and civil society leaders agree on
this. However, both meetings will come up with short Outcome
Documents that will make important statements about how the
fight against AIDS will be conducted over the next five years.
These documents are likely to mention Universal Access. Civil
society groups want to make sure that Universal Access discus-
sions do not remain vague and devoid of targets. Without global
and national targets there will be no progress towards reaching
all those who need prevention, care and support and treatment.

Question 6: What do African Civil Society Organisations want
from Heads of State at Abuja and UNGASS?

Answer: There is a concrete list of civil society demands con-
tained in the African Civil Society Statement issued on April
14, 2006. The key demands for those seeking to influence their
countries or talking to the media about these issues are:

1. Include within the 15% health spending target, a specific set
of separate targets for each of the three diseases: AIDS, Tuber-
culosis and Malaria;

2. In partnership with civil society, establish national mecha-
nisms to monitor the Abuja Declaration;

3. Put in place clear targets for achieving universal access by

Outcome statements from the Abuja Summit and the UNGASS Review
are requested to adopt the following recommendation:

"By 2010, ensure that at least 10 million people have access to
HIV treatment - including 7 million Africans - through an accel-
eration of HIV treatment scale-up efforts by all stakeholders,
including civil society, people living with HIV, member-states,
donor countries and multilateral institutions. In order to en-
sure that this target is reached equitably, Member States should
develop, in an inclusive manner, specific targets for the inclu-
sion of vulnerable populations in national treatment plans, in-
cluding, for example, children, women, people displaced by con-
flict, migrant populations, men who have sex with men and in-
jecting drug users."

"By 2010, ensure that all pregnant women living with HIV have
access to information and ARV therapy to prevent mother to child

"By 2010, ensure that the information and means to avoid HIV in-
fection is available to all citizens through an accelerated ef-
fort by civil society, people living with HIV/AIDS, member
states, donor countries and multilateral institutions."

4. Track progress towards Universal Access in partnership with
Civil Society

The Abuja Summit is requested to adopt the following recommenda-

"By June 2008, ensure that the African Union Commission, in
close collaboration with civil society organisations and other
key stakeholders, produces a High-level Review of Progress to-
wards the goals of ensuring that a minimum of 7 million Africans
have access to treatment services related to HIV and AIDS; en-
suring that all pregnant women living with HIV have access to
information and ARV therapy; and ensuring that all Africans have
access to the information and means to avoid HIV infection."

Question 7: What can I do to make a difference?

By April 27, write to your Health Minister and Head of State re-
questing that he or she insist that at Abuja and UNGASS, the key
issues outlined above are addressed in the outcome documents. A
sample letter is available to help you to do this.

Contact Information:

Sisonke Msimang -
Programme Manager
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Tel. +27-11-404-3414/ +27 83-450-7382

Omololu Falobi
Executive Director
Journalists Against AIDS - Nigeria (JAAIDS)
Tel. +234-1-773-1457/ +234-9-672-1744