Professor Michael Kazatchkine, special advisor to the Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Azerbaijan, made an official visit to Azerbaijan between the 30 September and 3 October 2019.
During his visit to Baku, Professor Kazatchkine had already met with the head of State Agency on Mandatory Health Insurance and planned to meet with the Ministry of Health, deputy of the Ministry of Social Affairs, deputies of the Prime Minister who responsible for Sustainable Development, Parliamentarians from the Health Committee and head of Main Medical Department of the Ministry of Justice. Together with colleagues from state authorities and CSO, he planned to discuss TB advocacy issues, HIV/AIDS and viral Hepatitis response of the country to increase government commitments while reaching UN 2030 Agenda.
As a strong advocate for the civil society involvement in TB and HIV/AIDS response, on October 1, Professor Kazatchkine also met with TB Azerbaijan NGO Coalition and the NGOs who work in HIV/AIDS projects under the support of the Global Fund. Partners discussed CSOs’ efforts and advocacy activities for sustainable TB and HIV response in the context of the transition processes from the Global Fund support to domestic resources funding.
Partners discussed very important aspects of country epidemics response and CSOs’ concerns on losing financial support to ensure the sustainability of activities funded by the Global Fund in the past. This is particularly important given that TB, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis treatment are not yet included in the mandatory Health Insurance system at Azerbaijan. The representatives of CSOs are worried about the future funding of the treatment. Access to the treatment of viral Hepatitis is also weak because the financial resources allocated to this response are lacking and it needs to be addressed especially in penitentiary facilities.
“Thanks to effective advocacy efforts we were able to build a strong relationship with Parliamentarians. As a result of such activities during the last 2 years that lead us to the possibility to participate twice in the Public Hearings held at the Azerbaijan Parliament and play a sufficient role in the legislation changing process.” – said Elchin Mukhtardi, Director of the NGO “Saglamliga Khidmat” and Board member for TBEC.
It is important to mention that Professor Michael Kazatchkine also gave information on his mission and carefully listened to the concerns of CSOs giving some recommendations on advocacy. He thanked CSOs for what they initiated and contribute to responding to the epidemics in the national level which are very significant in reaching SDG goals.
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