Business and AIDS
03 October 2007
“Business is fully equipped to play a major role in the global response to AIDS,” said UNAIDS Executive Director at a special symposium on International visions on the future of health care in resource-poor settings organized by Heineken international in Amsterdam on Wednesday 3 October.
In a video message to the symposium, Dr Piot highlighted the power of businesses to reach millions of people on AIDS issues, starting with HIV programmes in the workplace. Dr Piot called for an increasing involvement of the private sector in strengthening health systems, establishing innovative initiatives for the general public by devoting business expertise and outreach, building public-private partnerships and financing all these efforts in the long-term.
“Business not only has the resources but it has long understood the importance of investing for the future – and it is precisely this long-term horizon that needs to be brought into the global response to the epidemic,” he said.
Heineken has already showed a strong commitment to responding to AIDS through commitment from leadership and implementation of HIV programmes worldwide. “As a result of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, Heineken has upgraded its own clinics by enhancing the health care provided and by attracting good quality medical staff. This has resulted in relevant infrastructure, which provides health care to approximately 30,000 people in Africa alone, including employees, partners and children,” the company says on its web site.
The Heineken Symposium was organized to encourage dialogue between companies and external partners such as UNAIDS on how better business can become involved in health care and related activities. Other speakers at the symposium included Dr. Henk Rijckborst Health Affairs Director, Heineken International, Professor Joep Lange from the University of Amsterdam, Bert Koenders, Holland’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Professor Gilbert Lenssen President European Academy of Business in Society and Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman/CEO Heineken N.V.
In his video message, Dr. Piot underlined UNAIDS’ commitment to deepening and expanding work and partnerships with the business sector and said that it was critical to look way beyond the health system and health care when dealing with AIDS, as most HIV prevention activities are not of a medical nature.
Dr Piot stressed that business response to AIDS will require sustained leadership at the CEO level and beyond, sustainable resources for a long-term AIDS response and the introduction of increasing creative public-private partnerships.
“AIDS will be with us for generations to come and in many regions of the world its impact on business is likely to grow. At this juncture of the AIDS epidemic is essential that the business sector become a fully engaged partner for the long term,” Dr Piot concluded.
Watch Dr Piot’s video message at the Symposium
Visit the Heineken Symposium web site