Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica gives closing remarks

Friends of the Global Fund Europe hosted a discussion and dinner event in the European Parliament, bringing together Members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Ambassador of Ethiopia residing in Belgium. Newly appointed State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Cape Verde also put in an appearance.

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the recent development of the Global Fund and hear from European Union leaders’ views on global health issues, mixing and mingling with a variety of stakeholders. The evening’s agenda highlighted the progress of Ethiopia, a major recipient of Global Fund support and EU aid, as Friends Europe recently conducted a study tour for European decision-makers in the country in October. A brief report on the study tour was also presented. Finally, the evening enabled all the guests to discuss the evolving partnershiof the Global Fund and the European Union in the face of dramatic changes in global health.

Among the speakers of the evening, Christoph Benn, the Global Fund’s Director for External Relations, spoke on the early success of the new funding model and the challenges the Fund faces and the visionary and strategic thinking to meet them.

In making the final remarks of the evening, Commissioner Mimica commented on the EU Commission’s outlook on health policy and how it envisages the Global Fund’s ongoing and future work.  He expressed the Commission’s commitment to combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, adding that “we are convinced that a comprehensive health systems approach is the best way towards equitable and universal coverage of quality health services, including for these diseases.”

In referring to the Ebola outbreak and the havoc it wreaked on fragile health care systems, Commissioner Mimica argued, “there is no either or. Only when we are successful in helping to establish effective health systems can the impact of important vertical initiatives like the Global Fund make a full impact.”

He further went on to champion “a complimentary approach that is coordinated in our partner countries is our goal.” As part of his outlining of the Commission’s position on global health, he maintained that sustainable and long term intervention is crucial. “The culture now needs to shift from a emergency response to sustainability. Diseases responses should be integrated into existing sustainable national or international systems and strategies,” said the Commissioner. In his view, the Global Fund “now has the tools to engage in a more comprehensive country dialogue on how to strengthen the overall system and our overall assistance.