11 December 2020 | Statements

Strategy development launched and new areas for intervention agreed at 37th meeting of Unitaid’s Executive Board

Geneva – Unitaid will expand its portfolio to target challenges in reducing maternal mortality and tools for detecting tuberculosis, as a result of decisions taken at the 37th meeting of its Executive Board.

Held virtually from the 9th to 10th December 2020, the meeting also saw Unitaid launch the development of its new strategy for 2022-26, agree its budget for 2021 and invite Japan to join the Executive Board.

The Board has approved an external review as an important step towards the development of Unitaid’s next strategy. As a key component of this process, extensive stakeholder engagement will be undertaken throughout 2021, to gain the thoughts and inputs of Unitaid’s partners, grant implementers and civil society groups.

The new areas for intervention agreed by the Board focus on challenges that are deeply relevant to Unitaid’s core work, namely reducing the number of women who die in pregnancy or childbirth, and increasing the detection of TB.

Almost 300,000 women died as a result of pregnancy or childbirth in 2017, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Unitaid sees great potential in new tools to treat post-partum haemorrhage and pre-eclampsia in particular, leveraging our comparative advantage and strong track record in related areas.

Tuberculosis detection is recognised as a high-impact area for intervention which could play a significant role in advancing both the WHO End TB strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Without substantial investment in detection tools, TB will continue to be a leading cause of death in many low- and middle-income countries and among the most vulnerable. Unitaid is pleased to take this opportunity to examine the potential impact of innovations, particularly in the areas of non-sputum based testing and integrated diagnostic solutions, while leveraging the learnings from COVID-19.

Unitaid’s Executive Board Chair Marisol Touraine said: “I am proud that Unitaid’s Executive Board showed ambition and openness. This meeting was extremely productive and strategic. We were able to express a clear and strategic vision for Unitaid to build on its historic ground-breaking work, as well as areas such as maternal and child health, while maintaining its vital role in the fight against COVID-19. This meeting was also an exciting moment as we expanded our Executive Board for the first time in many years by creating a temporary board seat and welcoming Japan, as well as taking the first steps towards developing the new strategy for 2022-26.”

Unitaid’s Executive Director Philippe Duneton said: “It is fantastic to see the board approve future investments in the fields of maternal health and TB detection, which are key elements of Unitaid’s mandate. It is clear that innovation has a vital role to play in bringing down the number of deaths of women during childbirth and pregnancy.  Improving how TB is detected, and identifying cases of TB more quickly and easily is even more important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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