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2009: Bridging the Gap Between HIV/AIDS and Primary Health Care Conference: To bring together leading advocates in AIDS and primary health care fields to share knowledge and form an important collaboration

In May of 2009, Partners in Health in collaboration with the John M. Lloyd Foundation will host the eighth annual John M. Lloyd AIDS Project at Stony Point Center.

On the 30th anniversary of the Alma-Alta Conference, which called for universal primary healthcare (PHC), it is crucial to look back and assess how the advocacy for healthcare and the results of this advocacy has evolved in the last three decades. At this critical juncture it is imperative that members of the HIV/AIDS community come together with pioneers in the PHC field to advance a rights-based agenda for ensuring access to HIV treatment worldwide.

A debate has surfaced in global health circles recently that pits disease-specific funding against money allocated for healthcare systems. The vertical program model, treating single diseases such as HIV or tuberculosis, is often viewed as being at odds with a horizontal model of providing comprehensive, basic primary care. At Partners in Health (PIH), we see this is a false and dangerous dichotomy. Our experience has shown that health systems in resource-poor settings are incredibly weak and that any successful intervention requires investing in the public health system. Thus, if monies earmarked for a specific disease are to achieve the desired outcomes, they must incorporate some basic improvements to health systems and primary healthcare. To this end, PIH has leveraged vertical funding for HIV to strengthen basic healthcare in the settings where we work, by utilizing such funds to improve staffing and investment in public health infrastructure, provide essential drugs, strengthen women's and child health, and address social and economic conditions, such as food insecurity, that contribute to disease and poor health.

While policymakers and funders debate the most effective model for addressing the AIDS epidemic and expanding PHC, each day thousands of people die from treatable illnesses. The reality is that programs specifically addressing HIV/AIDS are needed within strong primary healthcare systems to effectively utilize healthcare resources and save lives. In order for this to happen, greater dialogue and collaboration is needed between the HIV/AIDS and PHC communities.

To this end, for the 2009 John M. Lloyd AIDS Project Annual Strategic Planning Conference, PIH proposes a meeting of representatives from the international HIV/AIDS community with attendees of the Alma-Alta Conference as well as others involved in the PHC movement. The proposed 2009 Bridging the Gap Between HIV/AIDS and Primary Health Care Conference will bring together two communities, both equally dedicated to access to comprehensive healthcare. The outcomes will include a clear plan on how the PHC community can build on the HIV/AIDS community's successes in increasing funds available for prevention and treatment of HIV so that there will be more funding available for both efforts. Successful examples of integrating HIV/AIDS programs into PHC programs will be shared at the meeting, and also included in a publication to share with other NGOs.

As an international NGO with expertise in providing excellent HIV care in the context of a strong primary healthcare model, PIH is uniquely positioned to bridge these two communities and foster an environment which produces meaningful discussion and effective solutions.

  • At this conference, the participants drafted a Declaration of Solidarity, click here.
  • For a complete list of participants, click here.
  • A copy of the interim report on this conference is available, click here.

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