Ulaanbaatar 2006 call for action: First Asia-Pacific regional conference on universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in low prevalence countries
Recognizing that countries with low levels of HIV infection now have a window of opportunity to contain the spread of the epidemic by scaling up evidence based interventions, with a strong focus on prevention;
Noting that in the Asia and the Pacific Region the rates of HIV and STI infection, despite some successes in containing the epidemic, continues to accelerate, especially among most at risk populations, such as sex workers and clients, injecting drug users, men having sex with men, migrants and mobile populations, majority of whom are young and given the region’s large population could result in the epicenter of the epidemic shifting to Asia and the Pacific;
Acknowledging the Political Declaration adopted at the High Level Meeting on AIDS at the General Assembly in June 2006, the 2001 UNGASS Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Development Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases;
Mindful that the costs of prevention are considerably lower than the costs of treatment, care and support and recognizing that given limited resources, prioritization, particularly most at risk populations, is the key to effective national strategies in low prevalence countries.
Recognizing that access to prevention, treatment, care and support is a basic right for all.
Noting that treatment, care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS is an important entry point for prevention of further transmission in low prevalence countries.
Concerned that stigma and discrimination towards people infected or affected by HIV and AIDS, including those most at risk populations, particularly in health care settings, impedes universal access to prevention, treatment care and support services.
Realizing that the label “low prevalence” diverts resources and attention at all levels of society; and
Recognizing that the demographic, geographic, socio-economic, cultural and gender issues, ethnic, religious, national and sub-national service delivery systems and political diversity of countries in Asia and the Pacific are important factors to consider when developing appropriate national strategies.
We the participants of the First Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Universal Access to HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support in Low Prevalence Countries recommend that actions be taken by the following:
- Establish / upgrade a functional national AIDS coordinating authority at the highest political level as Chair and the Ministry of Health as secretariat with all relevant ministries, including Ministry of Finance and political parties to be involved and ensure the participation of civil society, NGOs, people living with HIV, young people, community and religious leaders.
- Strengthen the national AIDS coordinating authority to improve programme planning and management, coordination, surveillance systems, research and M & E, in particular to utilize disaggregated surveillance data to feed into policy making, programme design and advocacy to keep ahead of the epidemic.
- Review, formulate and implement policy that is rights based, gender and culture sensitive by enacting appropriate legislation, including decriminalization, to reduce stigma and discrimination and to create an enabling environment for HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by ensuring the rights of people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and the most at risk populations and the service providers.
- Develop a costed and comprehensive national strategic plan, with realistic and measurable targets to be achieved by 2010, involving civil society, communities and other stakeholders, which should include young women and men, migrants and people living with HIV in the design and implementation towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
- Ensure adequate financial resources through national budgetary and other sustainable financing schemes.
- Strengthen human resources through improved management and capacity building for all aspects of HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support, at national and sub-national levels.
- Ensure critical linkages between National Strategic Plans and other relevant programmes, such as Tuberculosis, Sexual Transmitted Infection, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Primary Health Care programmes and education, etc.
- Maximize the use of flexibilities in the WTO/TRIPS agreement in national laws, with the aim of putting public health concerns above trade. Ministry of Health should be involved in the national implementation of intellectual property rights and participate in trade negotiations to ensure access to sustainable prevention and treatment.
- Initiate and implement innovative HIV and AIDS programmes to complement government efforts to implement National Strategic Plans through partnerships, with significant and active representation in the national AIDS coordinating authority.
- National civil society and NGOs to continue to actively participate in the monitoring and reviewing of the national AIDS response and feed into sub-national/national/international reporting mechanisms, to ensure that commitments made at the national/international/regional arena are fulfilled.
- Establish support groups, networks and capacity building for communities and people living with HIV and AIDS to increase meaningful involvement in advocacy, planning, implementation and M & E.
International Donors and Multilateral institutions
- Provide financial and/or technical support, recognizing special requirements of low prevalence countries, to implement the National Strategic Plans and to achieve the targets set for Universal Access by 2010.
- Provide financial and/or technical support for civil society groups and NGOs to support implementation of National Strategic Plans.
- Multilateral and bilateral donors to advocate and mobilize increased investment for countries currently reporting low level epidemics.
- Harmonize indicators and reporting requirements.