STOPAIDS welcomes new APPG on HIV&AIDS report on the UK’s approach to transition

STOPAIDS welcomes the publication of the All-Party-Parliamentary-Group (APPG) on HIV & AIDS latest report, No One Left Behind – Towards a Sustainable HIV response for key populations and women and girls.

The report provides an in-depth review of how the UK is supporting key populations and women and girls, the UK’s approach to transition, how the UK’s transitions approach is affecting key populations and women and girls and how to ensure these groups are not left behind in future transitions.

We are particularly pleased to see the strong inclusion of the impact of transition on civil society, who are often best placed to both provide services and conduct advocacy on behalf of the most marginalised. Ensuring civil society funding before, during and after transitions will help lock in the gains made through donor funding for generations. Civil society in middle income countries where donors, like DFID, have chosen to transition, need continued and targeted support in order to ensure the HIV response is sustained and not weakened.

STOPAIDS own position on DFID’s approach to transition is closely aligned with the report which outlines the core contradiction between DFID’s current use of ‘gross national income as a central criteria in its decision to transition or exit a country, and its promise to Leave No One Behind as part of the wider 2030 Agenda.

If DFID continues to use arbitrary measurements which do not reflect inequality, including health inequalities, within countries to guide their investments they will fail to contribute to the achievement of the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The breadth of evidence used to inform the report, including primary research conducted by STOPAIDS and The International HIV/AIDS Alliance, illustrates the risks of transitions through sharing case study examples of where reductions in donor funding have led to a break down in services, care and treatment. This evidence underscores that the assumption many donors make when deciding to withdraw funding, that national governments have the capacity and the political will to continue delivery, is false.

We particularly champion the recommendations in the report which call on DFID to develop a transitions framework to guide their approach to closing programmes sustainably, to work with other government departments to ensure civil society space does not close down post transition and to increase their funding to the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund who support robust civil society networks led by and working with key populations.

A commitment from DFID as bilateral funder and a Global Fund Board Member to learn the lessons of transition and to develop mechanisms to support countries where transition is showing signs of failing or causing disease burdens to increase is also required. However, we foresee the risk of countries experiencing such challenges being dramatically reduced if donors y put clear and effective guidance for transition in place.

We’ll continue to work closely with the APPG on HIV/AIDS to take the recommendations for this report forward. STOPAIDS co-chairs a UK working group on Sustainability, Transitions and Co-Financing, if your organisation is interested in joining the group please get in touch with jenny@stopaids.org.uk.