January 25, 2018
To: United Nations Secretary-General Mr Antonio Guterres
Amsterdam, 22 January 2018
Re: Civil Society letter to support the position of Prof M. Kazatchkine as UN special envoy on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia dd 23 June 2017
Your Excellency Mr Guterres,
With this letter, we – undersigned civil society organizations – call on you to reconsider the position of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine as your Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
Michel Kazatchkine was recently announced to serve as special advisor to UNAIDS for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C by the UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe.
We are happy to greet Prof. Michel Kazatchkine with his new position. We believe however that the urgency of three epidemics in the EECA region justifies a position as UN special envoy for the region. A region in which the HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics are out of control. This development concerns us deeply:
- The annual number of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia increased with 60% between 2010 and 2016.
- From all regions in the world, the EECA region is furthest away from reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020. Treatment coverage remains alarmingly low (28%), and less than a quarter of people living with HIV had suppressed viral loads (end-2016).
- Specific populations, such as men who have sex with men, people who use drug users, sex workers, prisoners and migrants face specific human rights violations, impeding their access to prevention and health services.
Despite these alarming developments, donors and multilateral institutions are pulling out of the region. Achieving the SDG’s on health and the promise to leave no one behind is therefore still far away in the EECA region.
Prof. Michel Kazatchkine has played a key role in highlighting the region to institutions as UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He played a crucial role in mobilizing local authorities, (inter)national civil society, donors, researchers and other relevant groups to come to better outcomes to the UNAIDS indicators as we see now. As a result, he enjoys great support from communities in the region.
In our letter of 23 June 2017, we asked to continue the position of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine as your Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We express our disappointment about not having received a response yet.
We understand that Prof Eric Goosby continues as UN special envoy on TB, due to the important UN High Level meeting on TB in September 2018.
At the same time, the AIDS 2018 conference in July 2018 will be a key moment for the region and for the world as well. The Dutch government acknowledges the issues and has prioritized Eastern Europe and Central Asia for the conference. We applaud their leadership as this is the moment to bring political leaders, policy makers, scientists, clinicians and community leaders together and draw attention to the urgent need to next steps. Prof. Michel Kazatchkine is helping in the process. We, the civil society organizations, look forward to your presence and support in Amsterdam next July.
We ask you to re-consider the position of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine as your Special Envoy for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as he is in an excellent position to create a momentum to raise awareness on the disruptive situation the epidemics has caused in the region.
Please, support this letter by signing it before Monday, 29 January 5pm CeT. You can sign this letter here.
Anke van Dam,
Executive Director, AFEW International