More than 200 participants recently attended the 4th Conference on Global Health and Vaccination Research in Oslo.
The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Meeting the Challenges of the Millennium Development Goals and beyond- Health research and policy’, 30 November to 2 December.
NIBR participated in two sessions, of which the first was a joint symposium organised by NIBR and the Centre for International Health of the University of Bergen addressing new approaches and considerations in prevention of HIV/AIDS. Drawing mainly on material funded through the Norwegian Research Council, several presentations cited critical themes in rethinking prevention: such as the role of culture in local interpretations of illness and disease, and the importance of community participation in design of health research. NIBR’s own presentations highlighted the need to rationalise governance of responses to HIV/AIDS by critically assessing which structures were improving coordination of a crowded aid environment. While some structures were now in place, a success in itself, the challenges of multi-level governance of HIV/AIDS was shown. The importance of strengthening local, district level capacities was also highlighted, but findings also showed mixed results, namely, problems of continuity in financing and also top-down nature of policy setting and structures from national level.
Moralism vs. HIV prevention
An additional NIBR presentation, with colleagues from Russia, highlighted the particularly difficult nature of excluded groups’ (in this case, injecting drug users) access to HIV prevention services. Targeted interventions were being forfeited to avoid confronting moralistic attitudes directed at drug users. Overall the session illustrated a mixed picture of success concerning HIV prevention, and one again, reinforced the critical need for joint multidisciplinary research required to better understand what makes successful prevention more likely to succeed.
Peris Jones from NIBR participated in the final session that looked at the role of human rights and research in the context of meeting the millennium goals (MDGs). Jones spoke to the central paradox in his recent book, AIDS treatment and Human Rights in Context, to ask why – at the height of rights-based success in getting people access to medical treatment against AIDS – is the treatment era turning out to be less than satisfactorily reciprocal to human rights? This session raised many of the successes of the MDGs, for example, the political momentum generated and also with evidence of some increase in budget (re)allocations to meet the MDGs. But problems associated with the MDGs, not least, quality of the data used to measure them, as well as the need to broaden attention to the national level political and policy implementation were also raised.
The contribution of human rights
The specific contribution of human rights was presented as
• conceptually, to build a more holistic framework of understanding the health related MDGs, and also
• the specific contribution in terms of the role of litigation in furthering health, which although difficult to always achieve, especially for poorer more excluded citizens, did suggest some important outcomes in terms of access to drugs in particular when successful (albeit in mainly middle income countries).
For Peris Jones’ book AIDS Treatment and Human Rights in Context, click here
For more information about NIBR research projects on HIV/AIDS, click here.
For more information on the Global Health and Vaccination Research Programme of the Research Council of Norway, click here.