UNAIDS PCB 39: Statement of India on the Executive Director's Report to the 39th PCB

On Tuesday, 6 December 2016, the delegation of India delivered the following intervention at the 39th UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) Meeting.

India declared that she had "recently crossed the milestone of treating 1 million HIV patients with free Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART)."

I will first briefly share efforts made by India to implement the Fast track Strategy. A number of major policy decisions have been taken recently towards achieving the 90-90-90 targets.

India has the second largest ART programme globally. We have recently crossed the milestone of treating 1 million HIV patients with free Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). To further expand ART, the general cut-off level for initiation of ART has been raised to a CD4 count of 500. We are also actively considering providing ART for ALL, regardless of CD4 count. We are also making efforts to ensure 100% linkage of those found positive so that they have regularly access to HIV care service.

In relation to the Report of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, India noted,

As the Executive Director has rightly highlighted, all said and done, the tremendous progress we have achieved could not have been possible if ART was not made more affordable. We should continue to address the challenges related to affordability and access to ART and security of HIV/AIDS commodities. In this regard, we welcome the report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines and appreciate UNDP and UNAIDS in supporting their work. As the main initiators, UNAIDS and its co-sponsors should now work with all relevant stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the High-level Panel.

The full intervention is reproduced below:

39th UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) Meeting
[December 6-8, 2016]

Agenda item 1.3 – Executive Director’s Report to the 39th PCB

Intervention by India

I thank you Mr. Chairman,

India joins others in thanking the Executive Director Mr. Michel Sidibe for his inspiring remarks and for candidly sharing the challenges and opportunities for the Joint Programme for fast tracking the global AIDS response.

Mr. Chairman,

I will first briefly share efforts made by India to implement the Fast track Strategy. A number of major policy decisions have been taken recently towards achieving the 90-90-90 targets.

India has the second largest ART programme globally. We have recently crossed the milestone of treating 1 million HIV patients with free Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). To further expand ART, the general cut-off level for initiation of ART has been raised to a CD4 count of 500. We are also actively considering providing ART for ALL, regardless of CD4 count. We are also making efforts to ensure 100% linkage of those found positive so that they have regularly access to HIV care services.

We are testing 29 million persons every year including around 12 million pregnant women in an effort to eliminate mother to child transmission. Nearly 66 percent of the estimated People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in India know their status. To enhance this and reach to the first of the 90-90-90 target, we are expanding testing facilities through integration with the general health system, initiating community based testing with intensive efforts to reach out to target populations, partner testing, active engagement of private sector and engagement of allied ministries in the Government.

To achieve the third 90, we are making efforts to ensure high levels of retention in treatment cascade, high levels of adherence to treatment, regular CD4 testing, timely switch to other regimens etc. Free access to third line anti-HIV treatment is also being introduced.

Mr. Chairman,

We now wish to turn to the Joint Programme and the global efforts to end the AIDS epidemic. We are encouraged by the successful replenishment of the Global Fund. We are, however, concerned that the same kind of support is not forthcoming to UNAIDS. We would like to recall here that the main reason for establishing the Joint Programme was the realization that the task of responding to the AIDS epidemic is not possible for any single entity. The unique role and value addition of the Joint Programme cannot be replaced and if we want to achieve the ambitious target of ending AIDS by 2030 we need to renew our support and commitment to UNAIDS.

The Fast Track Strategy needs huge resources, a major part of which has to come at the domestic level. Many developing countries are already doing their part by substantially increasing their domestic investments and are getting on the fast track. Now the onus is on global partnerships based on equity and solidarity to support this process and ensure that UNAIDS is fully funded.

We support the Executive Director’s proposal to establish an independent panel to review the joint working, financing, accountability and governance of UNAIDS. We wish to emphasize the need for balanced representation of all stakeholders in this panel, in particular the civil society and People Living with HIV. The objective should be to regain the leadership role of the Joint Programme in steering the global AIDS response. We look forward to the clear delineation of the composition and scope of the panel.

Mr. Chairman,

On the programmatic aspects, we support the renewed focus on prevention and taking AIDS out of isolation and integrating with general health systems.

As the Executive Director has rightly highlighted, all said and done, the tremendous progress we have achieved could not have been possible if ART was not made more affordable. We should continue to address the challenges related to affordability and access to ART and security of HIV/AIDS commodities. In this regard, we welcome the report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines and appreciate UNDP and UNAIDS in supporting their work. As the main initiators, UNAIDS and its co-sponsors should now work with all relevant stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the High-level Panel.

Mr. Chairman,

Our response, of course, cannot stop at providing drugs and diagnostics. We have to ensure that stigma and discrimination associated with HIV is eliminated and HIV affected people can live with dignity, avail all social benefits as equals and also contribute productively to their societies and economies. We fully support the emphasis on a rights-based approach in strengthening the implementation of the Fast Track Strategy.

Finally, UNAIDS should continue to support robust country owned and country led AIDS response and give equal emphasis to quality changes and innovations for maximum impact. We are ready to contribute our part and are committed to strengthening our collaboration with the international community.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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