Building Systems and Sustainability through a New Public-Private Partnership for Technology and HIV/AIDS (Updated January 2009)

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Building Systems and Sustainability through a New Public-Private Partnership for Technology and HIV/AIDS

After 25 years of the AIDS epidemic, low- and middle-income countries still struggle to cope with the overwhelming task of providing prevention, care and treatment services in resource-challenged settings. This challenge presents an opportunity for the private sector to become more involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, collaborating with governments that are already providing financing and services to millions in need.

In a public-private partnership, the private sector can contribute much-needed innovation while the public sector shares information about the ever-growing global health community, where funding agencies increasingly demand practical, sustainable systems and information technology infrastructure. Because entry points into this market are not always clear, companies stand to benefit significantly from a better understanding of them, as well as from information about how to protect their own workforce and supply chains and develop markets in, and products for, AIDS-affected regions.

Building Hope for the Future

The technology & HIV/AIDS working sessions will seek to develop practical projects that information technology companies may join to address the global HIV/AIDS pandemic in heavily AIDS-affected countries and emerging markets.

In trying to find solutions for the challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the participants in the first working session on "The Role of the Technology Sector in the Global Response to HIV/AIDS" identified data management and storage, provision of access to information, network creation, clinical information management and data tracking as skills of the information technology sector that could be leveraged through public-private partnerships.

Barriers to the Global Response to HIV/AIDS
The fundamental challenge in addressing HIV/AIDS in the global setting is a lack of capacity. Ethiopia, for example, has only 700 trained pharmacists for a population of 75 million. 'Lack of capacity' refers not only to issues of human capacity; but also to system or organizational capacity and capacity for effective communication.

Challenges include the low number of medical service providers, the knowledge gap between those providers, and the lack of medical records and longitudinal information needed to evaluate the successes and failings of prevention, care and treatment programs. These challenges are compounded by difficulties in data management capacity, such as the scarcity of trained technology professionals and information management systems. Without this culture of data and information management, implementing technological solutions in resource-challenged environments requires an intensive training process.

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Public-Private Partnerships for Technology and HIV/AIDS at Work
Information technology companies have not been absent from efforts to address HIV and AIDS in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. Participants in the first "Role of the Technology Sector in the Global Response to HIV/AIDS" working session shared some specific experiences in using existing technologies to develop critical solutions to the capacity challenges in AIDS-affected environments:

  • Voxiva - A firm that provides solutions for the health care sector, Voxiva worked with the Ministry of Health in Rwanda to develop TRACnet, an application that collects, organizes and shares data regarding HIV/AIDS care and treatment services.
  • Motorola - A global communications company, Motorola has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds from one of its most popular phones to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The donation could be as much as $100 million.

Private sector companies are an increasingly important component in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally. As in the experience of companies operating in such AIDS-affected countries as South Africa, it has become very clear that not only is addressing HIV/AIDS at a corporate level the "right thing to do" in humanitarian terms, but also in economic ones. Not addressing the epidemic can have devastating results for both company and country, increasing health care costs, reducing workforce productivity and market consumption, even destabilizing the entire political climate of particularly hard-hit countries.

Working Session Conveners:

Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC): OGAC, located in the U.S. Department of State, is the coordinator for U.S. Government HIV/AIDS programs around the world through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). OGAC and PEPFAR implementing agencies will provide programmatic and technical expertise for practical project development and links to in-country resources.

Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR): ICCR is an association of 275 faith-based institutional investors with aggregate assets of $110 billion. ICCR members engage over 30 companies on their global HIV/AIDS policies. For over 35 years, ICCR has been a leader of the corporate social responsibility movement.

Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBC): Having designed workplace, community and advocacy programs, as well as unique projects that build on a company's core competency and links to members and civil society partners for joint projects, GBC provides the technical knowledge and experience in designing strategic and practical initiatives to fight HIV/AIDS.

Corporate Council on Africa (CCA): Established in 1993, CCA is a membership organization at the forefront of strengthening and facilitating the commercial relationship between the United States and Africa. The CCA HIV/AIDS Initiative works with its members to develop and implement HIV/AIDS workplace policies and prevention, care and treatment programs for their Africa-based employees and family members; increase corporate partnerships for effective HIV/AIDS programs; and, enhance private sector participation in national HIV/AIDS efforts in Africa.

Working Session Facilitator:

Constella Futures: Constella Futures, formerly Futures Group, is the international development unit of Constella Group. Specializing in the design and implementation of public health and social programs for developing countries, the unit has implemented projects in more than 100 countries. Constella Futures works with government agencies, foundations, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations, to address conditions that compromise the well-being of people around the world.


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