The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the world in unprecedented ways, with serious implications for global public health programs such as those addressing HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. A newly-published report available here captures key insights from the dialogue Reimagining Commitment to Fighting HIV, TB and Malaria During COVID-19: Focus on the Private Sector, with concrete examples of what the private sector can and is doing to help stem further consequences of the pandemic on hard-won gains in HIV, TB and malaria.
Keynote speakers Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, and the Honorable Minister Dr. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, the Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, reinforced the link between the health of populations and the health of economies, and the important contribution of the private sector in delivering on both. GBCHealth also published accompanying Q&A interviews with both Mr. Sands and Minister Tadesse.
Panel speakers shared their experience, concerns and optimism for the potential impact across sectors and borders, and the importance of both science and collaboration coming together to address the critical issues that we are facing today. With this, eight important themes surfaced during the discussion:
- The private sector is committed to protecting their workforce and the communities where they live and work.
- The private sector is agile and adaptive, but more engagement is needed for a sustained response.
- Continuity of ongoing health services and programming is essential during COVID-19.
- The local private sector is stepping up its commitment to address local health challenges.
- There is a strong business case for private sector engagement in health.
- Any response must be sustainable long-term and aim to contribute to stronger health systems.
- Civil society and communities are needed at every level of the response.
- Partnerships and collaboration are critical to curbing the HIV, TB, malaria crises, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
Panelists included leaders from six multinational and regional companies (Access Bank, Aliko Dangote Foundation, BD, Chevron, Merck and Orange), and EANNASO, a network of community-based organizations in Eastern Africa. We hope the information and insights in the report encourage those who are committed to stay the course, and encourage those not yet engaged to understand the need, the opportunities and the unbearable cost of inaction.
The webinar was hosted in collaboration with the Private Sector Constituency to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (PSC) and the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA). A recording of the webinar is also available here.
“Business has a lot at stake in making societies healthier…. the business community as a whole does not engage in health as much as it should. I think COVID-19 could transform the relationship between the business community and health to a much broader engagement than we have achieved thus far.”Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund