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Home » EU Health, Health, Healthcare Policy, HIV/ AIDS

European Commission’s passionate response to AIDS

Submitted by on 14 Jul 2017 – 10:20

Thirty years since the first cases of AIDS were reported, the European Commission has been providing funding and support to several developing countries across the globe. Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation writes  about the EU’s united and fervent response to the epidemic over the years

Today nearly 36 million people in the world live with HIV (1), the virus that causes AIDS, according to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO). This disease joins deadly forces with one of the world’s oldest diseases, tuberculosis. Of all the people dying from AIDS-related causes, nearly one-third die of Tuberculosis.

Since the early days of the epidemic, the European Commission has been providing funding and support for those that suffer and working with developing countries, and global institutions, in particular in Africa over many years.

For example back in 1987, the late European Commission Vice-President Lorenzo Natali convinced the signatory states of the Lomé Convention – the agreement setting out the principles and objectives of the European Union cooperation with ACP countries (2) – to join the creation of the “EC-ACP AIDS Control Programme”. This would support the efforts of the Global Programme on AIDS created by the WHO. (3) These early efforts were visionary because alongside an immediate response to a global emergency, they laid the foundations for a long-term structural approach.

Based on this vision, close partnerships were built between beneficiary governments, civil society and other international actors.

At the turn of the millennium, the European Union realised the battle had to be intensified. Once again, we were at the forefront to promote The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Over the years, the EU and its MemberStates consistently contributed to about half of the Global Fund’s funding. (4)

We can be proud that today, the Global Fund provides access to life saving antiretroviral treatment to 10 million people worldwide.

And last year, the European Commission increased its pledge by 27% to a total of €475 million for the period 2017-19. This supports the Global Fund’s objective to help save eight million lives over the next three years and reach the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending the epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria by 2030.

We don’t just focus on the global level. The European Commission also helps to strengthen country systems for integrated AIDS care.

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases provides a good illustration of this. This 100-year-old leading NGO paved the way to tuberculosis control worldwide, confirming that it is only when we are united that we can overcome great challenges. (5)

From 2006 to 2012, the European Commission budget funded the Union’s  Integrated HIV Care  programme in Benin, (6, 7) Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe to bring national AIDS and tuberculosis programmes together.

The strategies that the Integrated HIV Care programme developed were endorsed by national programmes, then further scaled-up with Global Fund support. This also contributed to state building. Under this programme, the European Union also catalysed corporate funding for AIDS care in Myanmar (8) which permitted rapid scale-up through the Three Diseases Fund co-financed by the EU, then by The Global Fund.

In war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, this programme introduced antiretroviral treatment alongside tuberculosis care and successfully maintained patients on treatment over the years. (9) It found how to efficiently monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and resistance to medicines. (10) It did so in the most rural areas in really challenging environments, ensuring that no patient was left behind. It built synergies with the EU bilateral support to health through the European Development Fund that contributes to the SDG target of Universal Health Coverage.

As the epidemic shows signs that it could finally start to recede, there is now a place for reasonable optimism in Africa with reduced rates of new HIV infections and fewer deaths caused by AIDS.

This success does not reduce our energy or our vision to make the world free of AIDS by 2030.

Confronting human rights breaches, stigma and discrimination must remain part and parcel of the fight. The Ebola epidemic is also a sober reminder that we must continue our common efforts to protect health security, not only to respond to emergencies but also to prepare health systems worldwide to be strong enough to withstand the pressures that may come at any time.



2.European Commission – African Caribbean and Pacific Countries


4.http://www.theglobalfund.org , consulted March 27, 2017



7.Ferroussier O et al. Results of rapid and successful integration of HIV diagnosis and care into tuberculosis services in Benin. International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 2013, 17(11):1405-1410