Editor’s Note: Check back on Sunday, when we expect a few more guest bloggers to weigh in with their impressions and insights from the conference.
It has been busy — and full of challenging issues.
The HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting this year in Windhoek (which ends early Sunday) has been quite different from any of the preceeding gatherings — as UNICEF’s Jimmy Kolker noted in an earlier post.
There was the definite sense that the global response against AIDS had moved into a new phase — a time when it was necessary to take thoughtful stock, to stop a minute, and look back at the last five years of nonstop running that put programs in place, and saved so many lives.
The global financial crisis has only accentuated the need for reflection about what works — and what doesn’t. Most experts expect if not a leveling of funds, then a slower increase in spending. It means, as Nigeria’s John Idoko says on this blog, that governments must make priorities and all players must work in close coordination, because the money won’t be flowing like before.
It is still very much an emergency — an estimated 2.7 million deaths a year should inspire nothing short of that. Perhaps, though, the best way to deal with an emergency now is to take stock of lessons from the past and apply them wisely.
At this conference, there were hopeful signs and lots of tension: the talk around the Haiti study that showed how lives could be saved (especially in preventing deaths from TB) if HIV/AIDS patients started their treatment earlier — but then raising questions of who would pay for it; the palpable feeling of new energy and focus into the efforts to preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child — but how to get more men involved; and the hand-wringing — as well as Maria Laga’s calming voice — around what to do in trying to cut down the numbers of new HIV infections. When will countries not only figure out where the next 1,000 infections will occur, but also devise plans so that they don’t?
I hope this live blog reflected some of this, and I hope it has some legs — passed around the Web, with many using the comments section to take over the discussion. I want to thank the Center for Global Health Policy, based in Washington, for supporting this blog. It was the Center’s hope — and mine — that it would be a forum to not only reflect the discussion in Windhoek, but also to get people more engaged in the issues.