Insight, Inspiration, and Imperative: Top Eight Takeaways from AIDS 2014

From a somber beginning to a closing ceremony calling for “Stepping up the Pace on HIV & AIDS,” health, and human rights (PDF), the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) provided insight, inspiration, and imperative for the critical work ahead. Here are our top eight takeaways from AIDS 2014.

Numerous MSH staff contributed to this content. MSH staff attending the conference included: Barbara Ayotte, Gordon Comstock, Melissa Gandanzara, Rachel Hassinger, Megh Jagriti, Jonathan Jay, Scott Kellerman, Candide Tran Ngoc, Cedric Ndizeye, Christine Onyango, Chinwe Owunna, Geneva Pham, Jonathan D. Quick, Christine Rogers, Gloria Sangiwa, Johanna Theunissen, Katie Reichert, and Sam Wanamama.

South Africa Knowledge Hub Session Highlights TB & HIV Co-infection, New Journal

New Strengthening Health Systems Journal launches.On Thursday, July 24, representatives from the World Bank Group, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Results International, MSH, and more, joined South Africa’s Deputy Director General, National Department of Health, for a panel discussion on Learning the Lessons from HIV for Improved TB Control and Beyond, a South Africa Knowledge Hub session in association with the new journal, Strengthening Health Systems.

MSH Country Representative of South Africa, Bada Pharasi, spoke at the session.

Related: Pharasi speaks about TB and HIV co-infection in South Africa. Watch video:

MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick serves on the advisory board of Strengthening Health Systems. Follow the journal on Twitter @SHSJournal to learn more.



Meet Christine Onyango

Christine Onyango, deputy director of results and knowledge management at Grant Management Solutions (GMS), presented three posters at AIDS 2014.

On Wednesday, July 23, Onyango presented: “Morocco ends ART stock-outs using the Electronic Dispensing Tool (EDT)”:


Christine Onyango, MSH. {Photo credits: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.}

Christine Onyango. {Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.}

Christine Onyango, MSH.


“Morocco ends ART stock-outs using EDT”

On Thursday, July 24, she presented two posters: (1) “Measuring performance of short-term technical support (STTS) to Global Fund grants: a unique setting to assess effectiveness”; and (2) “Measuring Effectiveness of Global Fund-Related Short-Term Technical Support (STTS) on Grant Management Bottlenecks: Results from 43 STTS Interventions in 24 Countries”.

Christine Onyango, MSH.

Christine Onyango, MSH.

Christine Onyango discussing the poster with an AIDS 2014 delegate.

Christine Onyango discussing the poster with an AIDS 2014 delegate.

Learn more about Grant Management Solutions (GMS2) >>

(Photo credits: Rachel Hassinger/MSH)

How Do You Transform Global Health?

At an International AIDS Conference focused on finding new ways forward in the HIV response, universal health coverage (UHC) has emerged as a promising path. Done right, UHC reforms can make health systems more fair, strengthen healthcare access for people living with HIV, and improve the sustainability of HIV financing. But strong activism is necessary to ensure that these reforms don’t just reinforce existing inequalities.

These were the messages from MSH’s panel session on UHC and HIV, cosponsored by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS. The discussion, headlined by former Australian High Court justice and human rights advocate the Hon. Michael Kirby, demonstrated the key role of HIV activists—especially people living with HIV—in making UHC work at the national and global level.

The willingness of the HIV community to engage with UHC efforts continues to grow. The UHC community must respond in kind, taking on broad lessons from the HIV response. That’s what could make UHC a transformative global health agenda in the post-Millennium Development Goal era.

Here’s what the audience—in person and online—had to say about lessons from HIV for UHC:

Videos: Dr. Gloria Sangiwa: Women Lead on Chronic Diseases

Dr. Gloria Sangiwa, Global Technical Lead of Chronic Diseases at Management Sciences for Health (MSH), reflects on the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014).

In the first video, Sangiwa describes the exciting opportunity for leveraging the HIV platform, thanks to the work of PEPFAR, to treat the whole person–not just the disease.

In the second video, Sangiwa elaborates on why women leaders — from personal health, to family, health provider, community, policy level, and more — are a critical component to stepping up the pace on HIV and chronic diseases.

Video 2:

More about MSH’s work on chronic diseases



Video: Meet Chinwe Owunna

Chinwe Owunna of Management Sciences for Health (MSH) describes the active surveillance approach used by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program in Swaziland to increase understanding of medicines safety and risk/benefit context for TB and HIV patients.

Watch video

More about SIAPS

Working toward an AIDS-free Generation: President Clinton Highlights Rwanda’s Successes

On Wednesday, July 23, I attended a special session of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), called “Putting Patients First To Improve Outcomes and Programme Efficiency.”  This year, the theme of the one-week event, which gathers about 12,000 participants from across the globe, is “Stepping Up the Pace.” The objectives include indeed to find a cure and a vaccine for this terrible disease, which has already taken the lives of about 38 million people since its discovery in 1981.

This session was led by President Bill Clinton, 42th President of the United States, and founder of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). Over the course of an hour, President Clinton talked about the progress and challenges made during the past years concerning the fight against HIV & AIDS.

First, he paid tribute to the AIDS delegates who lost their lives in the tragic accident of the plane, MH17. Then, he recapitulated the evolution in provision of AIDS medicines, and reminded us that, even though 13 million patients are getting treatment today, “the achievements shouldn’t be an excuse to slow down, …and an AIDS-free generation is within our reach.”

President Clinton also mentioned that international funding is decreasing, and therefore emphasized the importance of being more efficient.

Among other examples, he quoted the story of Rwanda, whose Ministry of Health (MOH): “offers the most remarkable in achieving efficiency in leadership”.

As a Rwandan delegate, I was glad to hear that.  Since his first visit in Rwanda in 1998, the country has made remarkable progress, and is moving toward the 2020 Vision, which is to be 100 percent free of external aid. “Rwanda has a great story,” he said, and, in collaboration with 25 US medical institutions, the government is training people to help others to stay alive.

The country has indeed achieved major results. Among them, thanks to the community based health insurance scheme (CBHI), the most vulnerable, who are about 25 percent of the population, are now getting free access to health care. Moreover, from 2010 to 2012, the performance based financing (PBF) system permitted the annual average number of HIV provider initiated testing to more than double, passing from 33,038 to 84,605, while the HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) increased 21 percent (from 133,231 to 160,833).

And, as President Clinton said, even if “more has to be done”, this made me feel proud to be Rwandan.

MSH has been active in Rwanda since 1983, and is currently supporting the MOH through the USAID-funded Integrated Health Systems Strengthening Project (IHSSP) in five major health system areas.

Candide Tran Ngoc is a senior communications specialist for IHSSP in Rwanda.

Correction, August 5, 2014: This post was updated to fix two inadvertent errors: 1) MSH has been in Rwanda since 1983, not 1973. 2) By September 2012, over 90 percent of all eligible Rwandans were enrolled in CBHI. Since then, the percentage of eligible Rwandans has dropped to around 70 percent. For more information, download the Rwanda MOH’s “Annual Report: Community Based Health Insurance: October 2012″ (PDF).