The 48th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), which commenced on 29 June 2021, closed on 2 July.
In her opening remarks to the meeting, the UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, updated the PCB on the progress made in the priority areas she committed to focus on at her first PCB, in December 2019: developing the next UNAIDS strategy, transforming the internal culture of the UNAIDS Secretariat, increasing and optimizing the use of resources for the Joint Programme and emerging programmatic priorities for action.
Reflecting on the recent adoption of the new Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026: End Inequalities, End AIDS and the United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End AIDS by 2030, Ms Byanyima urged countries not to forget HIV during the COVID-19 pandemic. “AIDS is not over. It is still one of the deadliest pandemics of our times. We have lost nearly 35 million people to AIDS. And last year, there were 1.5 million new HIV infections, all preventable, and 690 000 deaths, all treatable,” she said.
Ms Byanyima spoke about how UNAIDS had responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting out how around 70 UNAIDS country offices worldwide had supported COVID-19 response plans and are engaged in rapid responses to COVID-19 and HIV. She also spoke about how UNAIDS is responding to a range of pressing human rights concerns unleashed by COVID-19 and lockdowns that are adversely impacting access to HIV services.
In her update on building a safe, equal and empowering workplace for everyone, the Executive Director set out the practical actions that had been taken to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on staff well-being, the progress made on the Management Action Plan for a Healthy, Equitable and Enabling Workplace for all UNAIDS Staff, improvements to the internal justice system and how the culture transformation is progressing.
During the PCB meeting, a number of important areas related to the work of UNAIDS were discussed. The UNAIDS financial report and audited financial statements for 2020 and an update on strategic human resources management issues were examined. The PCB received, for the first time, a report of the ethics office and a management response to the annual organizational oversight reports, including the reports of the internal and external auditors.
The PCB also followed up on the last PCB meeting’s thematic segment on cervical cancer and HIV and was updated on the HIV response for migrant and mobile populations.
A zero draft of the UNAIDS Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) 2022-2026 was presented to the PCB during the meeting. The final version of the UBRAF, which maximizes the coherence, coordination and impact of the United Nations’ response to HIV by combining the efforts of the UNAIDS Cosponsors and Secretariat from 2022 to 2026, will be submitted to the PCB at a special session in October this year.
“With the PCB’s guidance and support, we can shape our new UBRAF to be a solid and meaningful framework that will allow us to translate our reinvigorated commitment and best value for investment into action for results in support of countries and communities and to continue to demonstrate strong accountability to the PCB and the wider AIDS community,” Ms Byanyima said.
Ms Byanyima thanked Meryame Kitir, Minister of Development Cooperation of Belgium, for her political leadership and the announcement of a new multiyear agreement in support of UNAIDS, modelling good donorship and demonstrating true international solidarity.
John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, addressed the PCB in its session on leadership in the HIV response.
The PCB concluded with a thematic segment on COVID-19 and HIV, which explored the epidemiology of the colliding pandemics, how COVID-19 is impacting HIV programming and inequalities and the vital role that communities have played in mitigating the impacts and how to sustain the gains made in the response to HIV and build back a better and fairer HIV response.
The meeting was chaired by Namibia, with Thailand serving as the Vice-Chair and the United States of America as the Rapporteur. The report to the Board by the UNAIDS Executive Director and the PCB’s decisions can be found at unaids.org/en/whoweare/pcb/48.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations-UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank-and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org