Feature story

Universal access: New push from African civil society

01 September 2006

UNAIDS welcomes the African Civil Society Coalition as a significant stakeholder in the process to move towards universal access by 2010.

Thirty representatives from the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS attended the International AIDS Conference in Toronto to push forward the agenda on universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support for all Africans.

20060901-Africa-logo.jpg

The African Civil Society Coalition was recently established to work on key advocacy challenges in Africa, review AIDS strategies and provide a platform for energising HIV and AIDS campaigns by African civil society groups. The Coalition joins together a range of civil society groups including, women’s groups, youth networks, associations of people living with HIV, the media and faith based organisations.

The Toronto conference was an opportunity not only for the Coalition to promote the need to scale-up the response in Africa at an international level, but was also a chance to meet with other key actors to discuss ways forward and the active involvement and participation of African civil society in the decision making processes.

“It is extremely important that such a Coalition exists,” said UNAIDS’ Director of Country and Regional Support, Michel Sidibe. “It empowers small scale organizations and gives them more visibility at regional and international level”.

Midway through the conference, the Coalition met with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to discuss practical steps for ensuring that the Coalition is fully involved in the process of setting national targets to scale up towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.

20060901-Africa-1.jpg

UNAIDS is urging countries to set up, through transparent and fully inclusive processes, ambitious national targets to move towards universal access. As agreed in the Political Declaration adopted in June at the 2006 United Nations High Level Review. “We believe that at this period in history, when the world seems to be united in the drive towards achieving universal access, African civil society groups must come together strongly to play critical roles in the national and regional responses,” said Omololu Falobi from the Nigerian non governmental organization, Journalists Against AIDS. “Civil society must play an active role with national governments, regional institutions such as the African Union and stakeholders such as UNAIDS in the movement to scale up the AIDS response,” he added.

Members of the Coalition are meeting in Mombassa, Kenya mid-September, to develop strategic directions for enhanced civil society participation in target-setting process and in monitoring accountability by African governments towards universal access benchmarks for 2008 and 2010.

UNAIDS encourages similar civil society networking initiatives around the world. “The movement to scale up towards universal access is a momentum that we have to seize together. Because mutual accountability will produce better results, we will seek every opportunity to build bridges between state and non state actors,” said Michel Sidibe.

The XVI International AIDS Conference, a biennial event, this year brought together some 24,000 participants from around the world to present the latest findings and share the latest evidence, ideas and lessons learned in AIDS research, policies and programmes.

Related links
UNAIDS at XVI International AIDS Conference

20060901-Africa-logo.jpg

The partners of the African Civil Society Coalition on HIV and AIDS include:

AIDS Rights Alliance of Southern Africa
ActionAid International - Africa
African Council of AIDS Service Organisations (AfriCASO)
African Microbicides Advocacy Group (AMAG)
Central African Network of AIDS Service Organisations (CANASO)
Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN)
CREDO for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights
Eastern African National Network of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO)
Global Youth Coalition on AIDS (GYCA)
Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria
Network of African People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+)
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Oxfam International
Panos Institute Global AIDS Programme
Southern African AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA)
World AIDS Campaign

Related feature stories