Germany—Ready to Lead by Example to End AIDS. 23/5/2017

Published by UNAIDS

During a recent visit to Germany, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, met with representatives of the federal government, local government, civil society, communities affected by HIV and the private sector.

Under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, Germany has prioritized global health on the international agenda, culminating in the first ever Group of Twenty (G20) Health Ministers Meeting, which took place in Berlin, Germany, on 19 and 20 May.

Political commitment

“Ending AIDS is a historic goal and I firmly believe we can reach it. UNAIDS has to maintain its leadership role in the global AIDS response. We have to increase our joint efforts and UNAIDS is central to that work,” said Mr Gröhe. "Health is a prerequisite for social development. This is one of the reasons why Germany made global health a priority under our G20 presidency. With this decision taken by our Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, a global health policy is going to be a hallmark of our country’s international responsibility. Only if we cooperate and work together, we can prepare the world for future health crises,” he added.

During the meeting, Mr Sidibé thanked the government, and particularly the Minister of Health, for their longstanding support to UNAIDS and commitment to the AIDS response. “Putting health on the agenda of the G20 and particularly holding a meeting of the G20 Health Ministers for the very first time is revolutionary,” said Mr Sidibé. “It highlights the shared understanding that quality health care is essential to social and economic stability.” They agreed on the danger of complacency and the potential reversal of gains it could bring.

Mr Sidibé also met with the Parliamentary State Secretary for the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Thomas Silberhorn, where he highlighted the critical role of UNAIDS in ending the AIDS epidemic and the impact it would have on the broader Sustainable Development Goals.

During his visit he also spoke to Bärbel Kofler, Germany’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid. She said, “Access to health is a human right.” They discussed the need for continued engagement to break down discrimination and stop exclusion and prejudice, particularly for people who are vulnerable and are being left behind. Mr Sidibé emphasized that fragile communities not only exist in developing countries, but can be found the world over—from Baltimore to Bamako.

Working together to Fast-Track the AIDS response in Germany

Taking the engagement to the local level, Mr Sidibé next met with representatives of the city of Berlin, which joined the Fast-Track cities initiative in 2016. He also met the nongovernmental organization Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe, which recently launched a campaign to End AIDS in Germany by 2020, and its local branch, Berliner AIDS Hilfe, as well as the advocacy group Action Against AIDS Germany.

During the meeting, Mr Sidibé highlighted that city health systems that are inclusive and accessible have the best chance of engaging people who might otherwise be left behind. “Having a strong civil society has made a big difference in the response to HIV,” he said.

Private sector engagement

In addressing the international business community on the eve of the B20 Health Conference Mr Sidibé said. “Today’s global health challenges, including emerging pandemics and antimicrobial resistance, threaten not just individual lives, but impact social cohesion and economic development. The private sector can bring unique innovation, technologies and services and needs to be an integral part of a multisectoral response to build resilient, responsible and responsive health systems.”

As guest of honour, Mr Sidibé congratulated the winners of the newly launched German Global Health Award—the German Healthcare Partnership (GHP), Bio Deutschland and the Voice of German Industry. The initiative exemplifies how the private sector and civil society alike are needed to drive innovation in the health-care sector.

Roland Göhde, Chairman of the Board at GHP, said, “With the German Global Health Award launched in this year of Germany’s G20 presidency, we would like to underline our strong private sector commitment towards multi- and inter-sectoral partnerships engaged in health system strengthening and universal health coverage. We are partners and committed to making the world a healthier and safer place.”

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