First published at Making the Development Goals Happen
In these difficult financial times it is critical we achieve value for money. To do this we need to tackle MDG 6 on HIV, TB and malaria in conjunction with MDGs 4 and 5 on maternal and child health and in a way that puts patient needs at the center of our responses.
Health cannot be ‘projectized’. We need better, joined up responses if we are to be effective. Working towards better integration of the health MDGs 4, 5 and 6 must be a priority.
Globally, the two top causes of death in women of reproductive age are HIV/AIDS and complications related to pregnancy and childbearing. We know from Alliance work in Kenya and Sudan that ensuring women can access maternal health and PMTCT in one service increases HIV testing and treatment for a mother and protection against HIV for their unborn child.
In 2008, half a million people living with HIV died of TB. Many of these lives could have been saved if they had access to ART but only a third of people who need it can get it.
Ultimately, communities and patients need to be at the center of decision-making to ensure we are adequately meeting health needs. Why is this taken for granted in the West but in developing countries it is so frequently ignored?
In a three year Alliance-USAID project in Uganda people living with HIV were at the heart of delivering services to increase HIV testing. Rapid scale up and national impact was achieved with over 1.3 million people accessing HIV services during the project from across the country.
We must not lose the focus on HIV at the expense of increased focus on other important health issues, simply because it has fallen out of favour. That is not cost effective. We need a holistic approach if we are to achieve all the health MDGs.
Every effort must be made to ensure that in five years time we do not have to explain to the poorest and most vulnerable that we failed to achieve the MDGs because they too fell out of favour.