On 9 December, Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund (GF) to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria addressed the 30th plenary session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at the European Parliament. The JPA brings together elected representatives of the European Union – Members of the European Parliament – and elected representatives of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (the 78 “ACP countries”) which have signed the Cotonou Agreement.
The discussion on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) featured a keynote video speech from Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, who referred to UHC as the single most important health target of the Sustainable Development Goals underpinning all others. No single institutions or framework is responsible for achieving UHC, this should be the product of coordinated efforts from governments, donors, international organisations as well as civil society and communities.
Mark Dybul explained the importance of the Global Fund in achieving UHC by contributing to a world free of diseases, which are still largely responsible for most hospitalisation in Africa. The GF contributes to UHC by ensuring increased involvement of communities, developing better procurement and supply chains, accountability and accessibility of data and working towards sustainability by strengthening long-term plans to support health care systems. Mark Dybul reaffirmed that the world will not achieve the end of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria without strong health systems and policies that will also be the cornerstone of UHC.
MEP Theocharous, MEP Neuser and MEP Goerens reiterated their support to the Global Fund for the next funding period, while the European Commission confirmed their backing of global health initiatives like the Global Fund and their support of sound and robust national policies that promote UHC. This debate came at a crucial time when the GF prepares for its replenishment in 2016. Indeed, the European Institutions and EU Member States have been key donors to the Fund, contributing to more than 50% of its funding up to date. The Global Fund together with Friends of the Global Fund Europe, and the NGOs STOP Aids Alliance and Global Health Advocates worked together to make this important discussion with parliamentarians a reality.