UNAIDS Executive Director visits Finnish capital to strengthen cooperation on AIDS

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UNAIDS Executive Director visits Finnish capital to strengthen cooperation on AIDS

06 September 2011

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé meets with Finland’s Minister for International Cooperation Heidi Hautala and her delegation.

During a one day visit to Helsinki, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé met with the Minister for International Development, the Ministry of Health, members of the Finnish Parliament, and civil society to strengthen Finland’s partnership with UNAIDS and the country’s role in the global AIDS response.

In a meeting with the newly appointed Minister for International Development, Heidi Hautala, Mr Sidibé expressed his gratitude to Finland for its longstanding involvement in the AIDS response—in particular in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe—and its support to UNAIDS.

“The Government of Finland has been a longstanding partner in the global AIDS response and has shown leadership both at home and abroad in championing evidence-based HIV programmes grounded in human rights,” said Mr Sidibé. “UNAIDS values its relationship with Finland and looks forward to strengthening our cooperation”.

Finland is a current member of the UNAIDS governing body, the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), where it also represents Denmark and Norway. The sixth largest donor to UNAIDS, Finland has made consistent contributions to the Joint Programme and in 2010 provided more than US$ 12 million.

The Government of Finland has been a longstanding partner in the global AIDS response and has shown leadership both at home and abroad in championing evidence-based HIV programmes grounded in human rights

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

Mr Sidibé briefed Minister Hautala on an upcoming Forum on Millennium Development Goal 6 in Moscow from 10-12 October that will assess Eastern Europe and Central Asia’s progress on the goal focused on HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases. He encouraged Finland to participate in the Forum, stating it represents a key opportunity to work with countries in Eastern Europe to address HIV infection among key populations at higher risk.  

With the Ministry of Health, Mr Sidibé commended the Permanent Secretary, Kari Välimäki, on Finland’s public health approach to HIV and its pragmatic response to the epidemic among people who inject drugs, in particular its support for harm reduction programmes. He encouraged the Ministry to consider Finland's experience in HIV control and services with governments and civil society in Eastern Europe and called attention to the dual epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis in nearby Russia and Central Asia.

The Executive Director completed his visit by participating in an interactive meeting with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development, chaired by Parliamentarian Jani Toivola. Mr Sidibé briefed Parliamentarians and civil society representatives, including the Finnish network of people living with HIV, on the UNAIDS Strategy, the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, and the challenges and opportunities in the global response. The participants discussed health and HIV integration as a way to shape the broader debate on antiretroviral treatment. Mr Sidibé called on the Parliamentarians and civil society representatives to continue supporting the AIDS response and find ways to keep HIV on Finland’s development and political agendas.