The long-standing commitment of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to international development has rooted them firmly as leaders in international development assistance. They are strong advocates on human rights issues––addressing inequalities between and within countries––and have forward thinking policies for social development and health.
This week the Nordic countries came together with UNAIDS in Helsinki to determine how, individually and as a group, they could bolster the response to HIV. Their aim: to build on the unprecedented progress already achieved and attain UNAIDS’ vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths.
The Nordics have played a particularly critical role in responding to the AIDS epidemic, keeping focused on and being strong supporters of evidence-informed public health strategies, providing support to the most vulnerable people in societies.
At the meeting the four Nordic countries discussed with UNAIDS the need for countries to take greater ownership of their national responses to HIV and how they can be supported in that transition; the importance of shared responsibility and global solidarity around HIV; and particularly the need for stronger partnerships to deliver results.
Opportunities beyond 2015 were also debated––including the role of the UN in a rapidly changing world. For UNAIDS, the meeting was a critical opportunity to ensure that UNAIDS’ and the Nordic countries’ priorities are aligned for maximum impact in responding to HIV.
“I appreciate the frank and open dialogue with our Nordic colleagues on shared priorities in advancing the AIDS response and ensuring our work addresses broader development goals around equity and human rights,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
During the visit, Mr Sidibé also met with Maria Guzenina-Richardson, the Finnish Minister of Health and Social Services. They discussed Finland’s continued engagement in global health and the work of UNAIDS.
Following the discussions Mr Sidibé visited the Pro-tukipiste Centre, a registered non-profit organisation which promotes and supports the rights of people currently or previously involved in sex work. Pro-tukipiste was founded in 1990 and activities range from advocacy to social support, outreach work, health care and legal advice for migrant and resident female, male and transgender sex workers. They have social and health care service units in Helsinki and Tampere which include drop-in services and outreach work. Pro-tukipiste reaches up to 2 000 sex workers a year. All their services are anonymous and free of charge.