- Peter Sands opened the Strategic Dialogue speaking to the increased risk of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the wake of the pandemic, noting World Health Organization research suggesting a possible doubling of deaths from these three infectious diseases due to the pandemic’s disruptions to infectious disease prevention activity and global health resource and service delivery. Sands suggested increased funding to health organizations. For example, the Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has stipulated an additional $5 billion in the next 12 months to defend progress against these infectious diseases and protect the healthcare workers involved.
“If we don’t deal with the root cause of the virus itself, the collateral damage on lives, livelihood, businesses, and economies will continue to escalate,” Peter Sands
- Monica Geingos expressed concern for Namibia’s fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as the pandemic limits the availability of global health resources and services. She advocated for greater private sector involvement in the healthcare of lower-income jurisdictions—in Namibia, private sector funding accounts for less than 1% of national HIV prevention funding. The First Lady also spoke of the relationship between mental health and alcohol consumption, an issue that alcohol companies should take responsibility for and mitigate the adverse effects of.
- Michael Froman discussed the relative lack of private sector dynamism for public health—while 74% of Fortune 500 companies have formed explicit strategies for climate change and environmental issues, only 9% have formed explicit strategies for public health (of that 9%, the majority are pharmaceutical companies.) Froman spoke to Mastercard’s partnerships to bring the company’s expertise on data and deploying technology to improve the delivery of frontline health services in a number of African countries and to build digital platforms and products to help the most marginalized individuals/communities access critical education- and agriculture-related services. For example, Mastercard assisted Gavi in the creation of Wellness Pass, a platform enabling the digitization and safe storage of patient records. This digitalization and storage will help patients access their own records more easily and health workers deliver a more consistent healthcare continuum. More recently, Mastercard, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust, has launched the COVD-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to provide therapeutic coronavirus solutions to the most vulnerable and accelerate the vaccine research and development process. He hopes to see more corporate and philanthropic contributions to the Accelerator for a prompt end to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Peter Matlare discussed the role of the financial sector in a global pandemic response, encouraging banks to boost their debt relief and forgiveness programs in this time of crisis. He cited Absa Bank’s longstanding leadership in HIV/AIDS prevention and de-stigmatization within the South African banking sector, which began when it partnered with the National Department of Health in a 2011 campaign to eliminate discrimination of employees who disclose their HIV positive status and elongated absenteeism by staff living with HIV.
- Carlos Sanvee discussed the psychological impact of lockdown on children. A UK survey revealed that 90% of youth felt their mental health falter throughout the pandemic, while a UNESCO survey revealed that 90% of children felt that their education had been negatively impacted throughout the pandemic. He said that the coronavirus pandemic may well be “robbing youth of healthy futures,” as the pandemic strains children’s access to a range of necessities such as good nutrition, quality housing, sanitation, space to play or study, and opportunities to engage in online schooling, as well as exacerbating the risk of maltreatment or violence in the home.
“It’s important to involve young people in a systemic change, because the same cause produces the same effect, and if you don’t change the systems we will find ourselves 20 years from now talking about the same thing,” Carlos Sanvee
- Jennifer Lotito’s organization (RED) has been a leader in mobilizing the private sector in the fight against HIV/AIDS for 15 years. When a company’s product “goes (RED)” a share of profits from that product goes to the Global Fund. The organization’s simplistic model of fundraising has proven to be extremely successful. To date, (RED) partners have generated more than $650 million ($230 million from Apple alone) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and to support HIV/AIDS grants in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, and Zambia.