International Aids Conference: Strengthening Health Systems Is a Key Component in the Fight Against AIDS

The XVII International AIDS Conference ends today in Mexico City. Yesterday, the Conference issued a press release underscoring the natural alliance between the response to AIDS and the efforts to strengthen health systems in developing countries.

From the press release:

Speakers at the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008) today underscored the importance of simultaneously scaling up AIDS programmes and strengthening health systems in poor countries, emphasizing that the two goals should be viewed as allies, not adversaries. Experts warned that the global shortage of health care workers hampers both goals and demands a collective response. They also stressed the importance of expanding the role of people living with HIV in the planning and provision of health care as a part of the solution.

We know that the AIDS epidemic has taxed the health systems of many affected countries by depleting the health workforce due to illness and death. Strengthening efforts such as HRIS strengthening help health officials recognize where the workforce is lacking and more effectively deploy needed workers with the right skills to the places where they are most needed.

On Thursday, the Conference held a Special Session on strengthening health systems through the AIDS response. The purpose of the Special Session was to explore different perspectives on the current debate as to whether and how HIV-specific funding is contributing to strengthening health systems on a global scale.