After the AIDS Conference, a Renewed Push
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 8/8/2012, 3:38 p.m.
Incoming president of the International AIDS Society, Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi said it is integral to apply what is being learned about HIV/AIDS from a scientific standpoint.
"I am a scientist. Like most of my colleagues, my whole career has been guided by the unique idea of contributing to human health improvement and in particular in the field of HIV for the past 30 years," said the 2008 Nobel laureate during an address to delegates. "I believe that implementing scientific evidences and best practices at every level of the HIV response is the way to ultimately tackle the epidemic. Scientific discoveries are meaningless if they remain in publications and drawers."
The conference brought together disparate groups and individuals united around the theme of stamping out AIDS.
World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim said the end of AIDS, an idea once regarded "idealistic and outrageous" is actually within reach.
"Today marks the first time that a president of the World Bank Group has addressed the International AIDS Conference," he said early last week. I'm here because I know what this movement is capable of achieving. I'm here to bring you both a pledge and a challenge. I pledge that the World Bank will work tirelessly with all of you here to drive the AIDS fight forward until we win."
Kim said there is much the Bank can learn and apply to its efforts to reduce and eliminate poverty globally.
"As the leading global development institution, the World Bank is concerned with all aspects of development, all the dimensions that are united in the eight Millennium Development Goals. We know that development challenges are interdependent. And yet our approaches to these problems often remain fragmented, limiting our vision and our results."
"That's why the idea of bringing lessons from AIDS to poverty reduction is crucial. By breaking down siloes between these two efforts, we begin a process that will go much farther. Ultimately, we'll multiply the flow of knowledge and experience across all development sectors, accelerating progress on education for all, maternal and child health, environmental sustainability, and so many of our other goals."
The World Bank, he said put the first $1 billion on the table for the AIDS fight in 2000.
Today, in health, the World Bank's comparative advantage is in "systems building," Kim explained. "Our health sector strategy is focused on supporting countries to create health systems that deliver results for the poor and that are sustainable. We also help countries build social protection systems that can mitigate the impact of events like economic shocks and catastrophic illness, including AIDS, on families and communities."
The institution is bolstering health systems by helping governments implement
performance-based financing, which gives local health facilities financial rewards when they increase delivery of essential services and improve quality.
"In Burundi, after a performance-based financing model was introduced nationally to strengthen the AIDS response, the number of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretrovirals for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission increased by 65 percent in just one year," said Kim. "We know that HIV is more than a medical problem. AIDS has devastating economic and social impacts on individuals, families and communities. That's why social protection is also a critical piece of a comprehensive AIDS response. Every year, worldwide, 150 million people are forced into poverty by increased health expenditures and lost income due to illness, including AIDS."
California Congresswoman Barbara Lee told an opening day crowd that she was troubled by the new infections that continue to manifest at an alarming rate, especially in communities of color.
"D.C. vividly illustrates the challenge, progress, courage and the unbelievable work left to be done," she said. "We're not here today for a victory lap. We have to pick up the pace. Too many die, too many wait in line. So in memory of those who did not live to see this day, let us commit to ending HIV/AIDS. Let that be our legacy," she said.