Impact of Community Activism – Foreword from Solange Baptiste

Foreword: Annual Report 2015

Solange Baptiste, Executive Director of International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), shares her reflections on the task ahead in her foreword for ITPC’s Annual Report 2015
I am delighted to share our annual report, which highlights ITPC’s achievements in 2015. Although there are 16 million people on treatment today, our job as treatment activists has never been more critical. The evidence tells us that starting HIV treatment early is necessary for epidemic control, essential for good health and plays a major role in prevention too. The new guidance behind ‘test and treat’ means that suddenly 21 million people need treatment now. At a time of dwindling resources, the international community must wake up and act now!
We are facing a US$9 billion gap to finance the HIV response.  Need has dramatically outpaced resourcing. And amidst shrinking funding, the money allocated rarely reaches communities most affected. Still far too many interventions are not evidence informed, and in some cases actually harm those most vulnerable.
We must urgently fix the drug development model that perpetuates monopolies, and price discrimination that prevents people in middle-income countries from accessing essential medicines.
But even with good treatment policies, affordable medicines and adequate resources, we will not ‘end AIDS’ if people who need treatment do not seek services. Although early initiation is important, we must ensure people do not face coercion to get tested or start treatment. Let’s not forget that human rights are at the core of effective HIV treatment. Treatment initiation must be guided by the individual choices of patients who are knowledgeable about their options. Sadly, such education is rarely supported.
ITPC’s unique role educating, mobilizing and enabling communities to understand and demand optimal HIV treatment is not only right, but essential to ensure sustainable results. Empowered communities are better able to take more responsibility for their own health, advocate for supportive policies and hold service providers and duty bearers to account.
Throughout our annual report you can read how ITPC’s model of enabling communities to address their priorities has delivered clear impacts and value for money. See how we:

  • Helped key populations claim their space in national accountability mechanisms;
  • Supported communities to monitor HIV treatment services and bring about policy changes;
  • Made US$35 million savings for cash strapped health budgets; and,
  • Leveraged resources from the Global Fund for communities in West Africa.

You can read the full annual report (PDF) here. I am proud of what we have achieved together with you, our partners and donors.
Yours
Solange Baptiste