Brasilia, 22 November 2023 – Hosted by Brazil, one of Unitaid’s founding members, the 43rd session of Unitaid’s Executive Board concluded with decisions that chart out ambitious new areas of work that reaffirm Unitaid’s role as a pathfinder and innovator while adapting to today’s global health challenges.
Progress towards meeting key 2030 global health targets is off-track as needs outstrip available resources. At the status quo, ending the AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria epidemics, as well as preventable deaths of newborns and children under five, are looking increasingly unlikely, while at the same time, climate disasters and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic are straining global health programs.
Against this backdrop, Unitaid is looking at innovative solutions that are needed now more than ever to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations and enable the global response to continue progressing toward 2030 targets.
In support of these efforts, the Board reiterated its support for Unitaid’s resource mobilization efforts, approved a new area for intervention to enable access to monoclonal antibodies to treat and prevent infectious disease in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), and approved a new climate and health strategy to contribute to resilient health systems centered around climate-smart health products.
Monoclonal antibodies can treat or prevent a wide range of diseases – and are already revolutionizing modern medicine in high-income countries. They also hold great potential to transform how public health needs are addressed in LMICs. But this transformative technology is not yet a reality in many LMICs, due to high cost and other access barriers. Unitaid has identified opportunities to address these barriers and help establish viable business models, enabling access to monoclonal antibodies to treat and prevent infectious diseases in LMICs.
“Despite the global health challenges of today, I see real grounds for optimism thanks to the generosity of our host, Brazil, and other donors who remain committed to delivering quality health innovations,” said Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid. “I am also encouraged by the Executive Board’s decision to approve Unitaid’s new area for intervention in monoclonal antibodies, given their transformative potential and promise in infectious diseases, children’s health, and pandemics. Today’s rising challenges demand ambitious solutions,” he added.
During the two-day session, the Board also voted to extend until end of 2025 the terms of current Executive Board Chair, Marisol Touraine, and Vice-Chair, Ambassador Cecilia Kiku Ishitani, ensuring continuity and stability in Unitaid’s leadership as the global health infrastructure continues to recover from the unforeseen impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were delighted to hold this year’s Executive Board meeting in Brasilia, where we were warmly welcomed. Critical decisions were taken which will support Unitaid to shape a more equitable and sustainable future,” said Ms. Touraine. “And I am grateful to the Board for their trust and confidence to extend my term as the Board Chair. I look forward to building upon the progress we made together over my last two terms and ensure Unitaid continues to succeed as a pioneer for equitable global health solutions.”
During her tenure as chair, Ms. Touraine helped to strengthen Unitaid’s governance and create greater transparency and inclusivity. Her strategic leadership of the Board during the COVID-19 pandemic brought clear guidance to the Secretariat and helped Unitaid adapt and evolve, demonstrating the relevance of its model and how it complements the work of other key global health players in delivering effective solutions.
The extended terms of the Chair and Vice-Chair will end at the closure of the December 2025 Executive Board meeting, and will align with the mid-term review of Unitaid’s 2023-2027 strategy.
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