The World Health Assembly: An Opportunity to Transform the Health of Children and Families

The World Health Assembly, which takes place next week from May 21 – 25, provides a unique opportunity for Health Ministers and other participants to champion changes that will transform the health of millions of children and families. As we look toward this convening, the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS encourages all stakeholders to amplify important calls to action. We hope to see the following messages included in key statements, such as under agenda item 12.3 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health,which will focus this year on early childhood development.

  • Children and adolescents affected by HIV are a priority for anyone seeking universal access to health care. Many are beyond the reach of mainstream services. They are too far away; they are too poor; they are too stigmatised and discriminated against; and they are too psychologically distressed.
  • We need to combine health services, including on HIV, with social and economic support. Only then can we bring marginalised children and adolescents, and their families, into our care. This means changing how we operate, and working more with others.
  • We need to start early. What happens to a child during pregnancy and in the first 1000 days determines their path through life.   We commend the focus on early childhood development within the global strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. The Nurturing Care Framework, being launched on 23rd May here in Geneva, is a key step forward in this regard.
  • We need to focus resources straight down to families and communities. That is where change happens for children. And that is the lifeline to those currently beyond the reach of formal clinics. This means decentralising more services from the clinic to the community and investing in mobile clinics and other differentiated service delivery models.
  • Let’s use the Sustainable Development Goals as an opportunity to achieve better health for children and adolescents affected by HIV and AIDS. They tackle the broader social and economic barriers faced by marginalised children and their caregivers. They commit different sectors to work together. And they prioritise those being left behind. Let’s use this as an opportunity to ensure that children affected by HIV/AIDS are first in line.

Several members of the Coalition will be attending the World Health Assembly. We look forward to seeing you there and to working together to #ReachAllChildren.