Efforts To End AIDS, TB, Malaria Epidemics, Build Strong Health Systems Inseparable

Devex: Opinion: The false dichotomy between ending epidemics and building health systems
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

“Is it better to improve people’s health by tackling specific diseases or by strengthening health systems? That’s a perennial debate in the global health community — between those enthusiastic about the power of disease-focused ‘vertical’ programs, and others who stress the sustainability of system-oriented ‘horizontal’ interventions. … This dichotomy between disease-specific strategies and the pursuit of universal health coverage is simply false. The reality is that we won’t eliminate AIDS, TB, or malaria without building resilient health systems that are truly universal and reach the poor, the marginal, and the most vulnerable people who often get left behind. The other reality is that a health system that isn’t effectively protecting people from AIDS, TB, and malaria isn’t much good as a health system. … Ultimately, we need more money for both. … The interdependence between ending the epidemics and building the health system isn’t just theory. … To achieve [Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3] of greater health and well-being for all, we must both end the epidemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria and build stronger health systems that can deliver universal health coverage. The debate should not be about which to do, but about how we achieve both” (10/12).