Global Disability Summit, AIDS 2018 conference, and ADB's 2030 strategic plan: This week in development

Signage at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by: ©International AIDS Society / Marcus Rose

Officials gather in London for the first-ever summit aimed at making aid more disability-inclusive, the 22nd International AIDS Conference sounds the alarm on remaining challenges in tackling HIV/AIDS, and the Ebola outbreak ends. This week in development.

Some 15,000 HIV/AIDS campaigners, experts, donors, and implementers descended on Amsterdam this week for the 22nd International AIDS Conference, where they warned that while much progress has been made, the fight to eliminate AIDS is far from over.  Approximately 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2017 — a far cry from the U.N. target of only 500,000 new infections by 2020 — and adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa are among the most susceptible. The conference, which is the biggest on the global AIDS calendar, showcased updates on potential new vaccines, diagnosis technologies, and promising new approaches to prevention, testing, and treatment, including early findings from the roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis in a number of countries. A group of donors, NGOs, and pharmaceutical companies also joined forces to launch a $1.2 billion coalition to expand the diagnosis and treatment of HIV infections among men, who are currently less likely to be accessing these services. In the lead up to the conference, Devex has been exploring the role of PEPFAR, the U.S. government’s flagship global HIV and AIDS program. Catch up on the series here.

At this week's Global Disability Summit in London, government, civil society, and private sector officials generated 170 commitments in an effort to increase disability inclusion  and tackle stigma in lower-income countries. Hosted by the Department for International Development, the Kenyan government, and the International Disability Alliance, the summit marked the first time the humanitarian and development sectors have come together formally to plan action on making aid more inclusive of people with disabilities. DFID suggested taking lessons learned from mainstreaming support for women and girls in aid and replicating that success for people with disabilities — particularly those caught in humanitarian crises and fragile contexts. Still, some in the humanitarian sector said the onus falls squarely on donors to ensure the humanitarian system is fit for purpose, and called on donors to incentivize big humanitarian agencies to bring in expertise from specialist disability organizations, as well as local and national grassroots organizations. DFID has been praised for improving its own policies around disability inclusion, but more work still needs to be done.

The Asian Development Bank published its much-anticipated strategic plan through 2030, after a multiyear process and several rounds of stakeholder consultations. The document highlights the bank’s operational priorities and planned actions to meet the changing needs of developing member countries. While a number of ADB’s borrowing members have transitioned to middle-income status in the past decade, poverty and inequality remain challenges for the fast-growing region, home to 326 million people living below $1.90 a day. The new plan emphasizes health and social protection, quality job generation, education, and training to address poverty and inequality. Historically, the bank’s support for the social sectors has been modest compared to its hard infrastructure spending, but reviews of previous strategies emphasized the importance of investments in social sectors. The bank is also scaling up support for climate change and environmental sustainability; over the 12-year period covered by Strategy 2030, climate finance should reach approximately $7 billion per year.

Health officials declared on Tuesday an official end to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The outbreak, the first in which a vaccine was readily available, was extinguished in less than three months and claimed 33 lives. The last confirmed case in the northwestern DRC outbreak was registered on June 6, meaning it has now surpassed the 42-day window that marks the end of an Ebola outbreak, and enters into a 90-day period of “heightened surveillance,” as outlined in the World Health Organization’s guidance. Following a two-month emergency intervention, Médecins Sans Frontières finished handing over its Ebola response and monitoring activities to the Congolese Ministry of Public Health last week.

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    Anne Paisley

    Anne Paisley is the Senior News Producer at Devex, where she oversees Devex’s newsletters, news website, and content management team. Prior to joining Devex in 2015, Anne was the managing editor at the Center for American Progress. She has previously held positions at CNN, the U.S. Department of State, and Cambridge Associates. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Asian studies from George Washington University, including a semester abroad at Peking University in Beijing.