Call to develop equitable systems for health in time of COVID-19

Globally, almost half a million people have died from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the number of infections grows daily. 

In the Asia and Pacific region, we have lost more than 40, 000 people to the pandemic and over 1.6 million people have been infected. Fortunately, most countries in the region are beginning to see a decline in new infections, but high infection rates are still occurring in some countries. 

Groups vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 response are often those most at risk of being impacted by HIV: sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, people in prison, and people who use drugs.

With this, UNAIDS, APN,+ and APCASO recall regional commitments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including leaving no one behind, the 2016 High-level Meeting on Ending AIDS, and the Asia-Pacific Regional Framework for Action on HIV and AIDS Beyond 2015. They emphasize the key role that the HIV response can play in developing and implementing equitable systems for health, including sustainable HIV and COVID-19 programming. 

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Recognizing and capitalizing on the intersectionality between HIV and COVID-19, UNAIDS, APN+, and APCASO find it essential to secure the gains of the HIV response while building a sustainable and effective response to COVID-19. At the center of all our efforts is a fundamental commitment to respect and fulfill the rights of all people in all their gender diversity to live healthy and dignified lives. 

UNAIDS, APN+, and APCASO call on governments and donors to ensure community-led responses, underpinned with sufficient funding and political and legal support, are built into pandemic response plans and frameworks. This requires that community-led organizations are politically and legally enabled, financially supported, and able to put effective community consultation and response engagement mechanisms in place. 

The experiences from the COVID-19 response highlight once again the central role that communities play in ensuring services for health are delivered where people need them when they need them, and in a way that meets their needs. Communities are central to the development and delivery of sustainable systems of health that reach everyone. 

UNAIDS, APN+, and APCASO call upon governments and donors to ensure community-led services are sufficiently resourced and funded and are able to play their critical role—currently in the response to HIV and COVID-19, and in the future in the face of new or emerging health threats. 

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