Private Partnership Critical in Achieving New Goals to Fight AIDS

Huma Abbasi and Mark Dybul 29 September 2015

The UN General Assembly convenes this week and an atmosphere of expectation envelops the hallways of the United Nations Headquarters. This year is particularly important as the assembly will discuss and negotiate the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the development agenda for 2015-2030.

These new goals pose as a daunting challenge, yet are pivotal to continuing the work and momentum established by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),which were launched in 2000 and end this year. With 2030 only 15 years away, this is not a long time to deliver on ambitious goals, but we are confident as much has been achieved in the past 15 years when we were being guided by the MDGs.

In 2000, millions of people were becoming infected and dying of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria every year.As a response to this global emergency, the MDGs galvanized unprecedented efforts by testing patients for these diseases and giving them access to treatment. During this 15-year period, there have been dramatic drops in the number of HIV infections, TB mortality has decreased and malaria deaths have been cut in half. Today, millions of people are alive because they have access to treatments, medicine and testing.

Many of these achievements have been realized through partnerships between the private and public sectors, but there is still much to do before we can eradicate the diseases as public health threats. Nongovernmental organizations, civil society groups, governments and the private sector must continue to support countries to build resilient and sustainable systems for health, which will result in long-term sustainable responses to the diseases. We need to continue to work together if we are to achieve the new goals by 2030.

Multinational corporations, such as Chevron, realize that business success is inextricably tied to the health and prosperity of the countries where they operate. Partnerships with the private sector are evolving, resulting in a more efficient response to the diseases. Companies are going beyond providing financial resources and are playing a bigger role by applying a business mind-set to solving social challenges and sharing best practices and expertise. Today we are able to harness private sector insight to achieve mutual benefit in global health.

For example, Chevron and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have been partners in the fight against AIDS since 2008. Chevron was the first private sector organization to join the Global Fund’s Corporate Champion program, an integrated platform for companies to make financial commitments to the fight against the three diseases. Since then, Chevron has contributed US$ 60 million to the Global Fund for programs aimed at improving access to health care in Angola, Nigeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Viet Nam and the Philippines.

With large operations in Nigeria and Angola, Chevron witnessed first-hand the impact that HIV had on its employees. In hopes of ending HIV among its employees, the company launched a voluntary internal prevention of mother-to-child transmission program to educate employees and their qualified dependents, especially women, about this issue. Through its partnership with the Global Fund, Chevron expanded its efforts beyond its employee population into local communities and host nations. Our partnership and programs benefitted greatly by leveraging key learnings, best practices and Chevron’s experience with its employee programs to bring about the best action plan for preventing HIV.

Increasingly, private sector companies see that the best work is done when corporations collaborate with local governments, international organizations and non-profits who can help expand the reach further. By collaborating, it is possible to leverage each of the partners’ resources to promote healthy lives and the well-being of all the individuals in the communities served.

Through public-private partnerships, we have made amazing progress over the last 15 years and achieved improvements in global health that are unprecedented in history. This progress has made clear that the business community is essential to achieving the SDGs. We must renew our energy and commitment and continue our collective work to build resilient and sustainable systems for health. It is our hope that many more partners will join the Global Fund and Chevron to achieve a world free from the burden of HIV, TB and malaria.