WHO and European hospital twinning initiative collaborate on strengthening HIV/AIDS responses in developing countries
Geneva – The World Health Organization (WHO) this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European hospital-twinning initiative 'ESTHER' (“Ensemble pour une Solidarité Thérapeutique Hospitalière En Réseau”) to collaborate in the areas of technical assistance and capacity building with the aim of strengthening national HIV/AIDS responses in developing countries.
The ESTHER initiative represents an eight-country partnership working to facilitate access to sustainable high quality treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS by working through networks, governments, health structures and NGOs in developed countries. Specifically, ESTHER supports hospitals and health structures in developing countries by twinning them with hospitals and other health institutions in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain. ESTHER will base its training programs on the guidelines developed by WHO for the "3 by 5" target to get three million people on antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2005. The initiative will also work with health Ministries and hospitals to adapt the guidelines to the reality of the country, and will feed back to WHO. ESTHER so far operates in 18 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. (Learn more at www.esther.fr)
"The difference between those who need treatment and those who get treatment is enormous. Linking expertise from industrialized countries with developing counties is a positive side of globalization in which we have started to take make an impact on AIDS. Together, with WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, we hope to increase access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS," said Bernard Kouchner, Chairman of the ESTHER Board and former French Minister of Health.
As the UN organisation responsible for setting health norms and standards, WHO provides leadership and direct technical assistance to its Member States to put in place effective health programmes. To support the global "3 by 5" target, WHO has issued guidelines for simplified treatment and training that are being used to strengthen country scale up plans and are helping to achieve the goal of universal access to prevention and treatment.
Active partnerships are vital for achieving the "3 by 5" target. WHO is participating in close dialogue and coordination efforts with ESTHER and their mutual partners, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, UNAIDS, UNDP, the World Bank and the European Union, to achieve significant progress towards "3 by 5".
The collaboration between WHO and ESTHER will focus on three areas: - technical and operational support to the governments of developing countries and national public health programmes in the area of HIV/AIDS; - capacity building of health care workers, associations and civil society representatives in providing support and care for HIV/AIDS patients; and - the exchange and provision of information.
"ESTHER works on the principle that true transfer of knowledge is best achieved when people work one-on-one. Dialogue and information exchange between health personnel from rich and poor countries will allow both to learn from each other. Our expanded collaboration with ESTHER will complement WHO's ongoing activities to tackle the serious human capacity shortfall," said Dr Jack Chow, Assistant Director General for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
In July of this year data collected and analyzed by WHO shows that nearly twice as many people in developing countries are on AIDS treatment compared with two years ago at the time of the Barcelona International AIDS Conference. However, 440 000 people currently receiving treatment is less than the 500 000 milestone set when the “3 by 5” strategy was published in December.
For more information please call WHO: Samantha Bolton 00 41 22 791 1970 or Melanie Zipperer on 00 41 22 791 1344