Non-Aligned Movement has always expressed its concerns at the problems faced by the developing world in sectors such as health. NAM recognises that the spread of HIV/AIDS constitutes a global emergency and poses one of the most formidable challenges to the development, progress and stability of their respective societies and the world at large, and requires an exceptional and comprehensive global response.

NAM has acknowledged HIV/AIDS as a cross-cutting issue impacting sustainable development. NAM has recognized the achievement of South-South cooperation in the fight against HIV/AIDS and stressed to give priority attention to the development of cooperation schemes among NAM Member States, as well as to the strengthening of regional and international cooperation to effectively address HIV/AIDS in the fulfilment of SDG 3.
HIV-AIDS is one of the most glaring problems in the health sector confronting the African continent. As such, the African Union (AU) has taken cognizance of this problem, For a more vital and stronger partnership for a better response to HIV/AIDS, the African Union Commission (AUC) signed an MoU with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on March 18, 2021, to facilitate co-operation and collaboration between the two organizations to cooperate in all issues with regards to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, management and control, through harmonized and effective responses, in line with the catalytic framework to end HIV, TB and Malaria by 2030.

The MoU was signed by Amira Elfadil Mohammed, the Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development and Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS. The signing ceremony was followed by a bilateral conversation between the two leaders on redefining the areas of collaboration between the AUC and the UNAIDS in order to end AIDS in Africa by 2030.

Amira Elfadil expressed her appreciation for the tremendous effort made by UNAIDS to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned in priorities and targets as set in the policy frameworks – AU Agenda 2063, African Health Strategy and Catalytic Framework to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030. Furthermore, Elfadil said “We must consider the cultural barriers that strain effective behavioural change implementation and in the AU Member States.

As you know, the African Union’s theme of the year is ‘Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want’. It is a strategic time to voicing cultural matters that Africa must address to end AIDS by 2030”. Winnie Bynyima said: “Today we mark 22 years of successful collaboration between UNAIDS and the African Union Commission, as we signing a renewed MoU with the Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development Department we set the path for a stronger HIV response in Africa towards our common goal”.

The MOU sets out the framework for cooperation in order to ensure closer collaboration and exchange of information between the AUC and UNAIDS in a manner that creates synergistic relationship and partnership in capacity building initiatives.

The Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, formerly known as the Department of Social Affairs, will coordinate African Union Commission departments and organs to ensure that HIV remains a continental priority and is integrated into the broader development, human rights, humanitarian and peace and security agenda of the African Union.
“I am delighted to sign the renewed MoU with the African Union,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. “The African Union is one of UNAIDS’ most important partners. I look forward to reinforcing our relationship to put communities at the centre of the response to HIV, address other health challenges such as COVID-19 and reduce inequalities that increase people’s vulnerability.”

This year is pivotal as the United Nations Member States are expected to recommit to the HIV response with the adoption of a new political declaration in June. The partnership agreement with the African Union is being signed as the continent grapples with overburdened and insufficiently financed health systems in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo Credit : UNAIDS