Feature story

“Abandon the concepts of dependency and charity and explore new possibilities for collaboration, activism and financing”

24 July 2012

UNAIDS Director, Evidence, Innovation and Policy, Dr Bernhard Schwartländer speaking at a plenary session at the XIX International AIDS Conference. Washington DC, 24 July 2012.
Credit: UNAIDS/C.Kleponis

At the plenary session titled What will it take to turn the tide? UNAIDS Director, Evidence, Innovation and Policy, Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, highlighted the many new possibilities for collaboration, activism and financing for the AIDS response as economic growth is rapidly changing the global order.

According to Dr Schwartländer, if we continue with the same investment level as we have thus far and doing business usual, over the coming ten years it will lead to stagnation and there will be no positive change in the number of new HIV infections. However, if we focus on successful programs and bring down costs substantial progress can be made. It requires a certain boost in investments for a while—peaking at an additional $7 billion in 2015. This will result in driving down new HIV infections by well over half in less than a decade.

“We should abandon the concepts of dependency and charity, as well as habitual ways of thinking and acting. We should explore new possibilities for collaboration, activism and financing,” said Dr Schwartländer.

Calling on countries to end their dependency on international resources, Dr Schwartländer highlighted the efforts made by low and middle-income countries to increase their domestic funding for HIV. However, there will be a number of low and lower middle-income countries that will continue to need significant amounts of outside assistance for the next decade and beyond.

We should abandon the concepts of dependency and charity, as well as habitual ways of thinking and acting. We should explore new possibilities for collaboration, activism and financing

UNAIDS Director, Evidence, Innovation and Policy, Dr Bernhard Schwartländer

During the plenary session, Dr Schwartländer provided an overview of the current financial situation but also outlined a number of innovative financing methods to increase reliable sources of predictable government revenue such as the financial transaction tax; front-loading investments for health through bonds; or utilizing fines paid by pharmaceutical companies for anti-competitive practices for health assistance.

“Let me be clear, let us not take the pressure off the world’s richest countries to meet their commitments and obligations,” said Dr Schwartländer. “Let us not forget that despite the global financial crisis, there is still economic growth in OECD countries. If we did nothing else but applied this increasing wealth to current levels of ODA, there could be another 50 billion dollars annually by 2020, in addition to the 133 billion today,” he added.

“It would be exactly the wrong moment for international donors to cut back funding, now that the dynamic is going the right way. When we are finally on a path towards sustainability and equity - a truly shared responsibility and true global solidarity,” he concluded.

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