A 40% Staff Cut at UNAIDS?
Informed sources tell The G|O that UNAIDS is under severe financial stress and is considering cutting its staff by 40%over the next few years.
The future of UNAIDS appears troubled. The Geneva-based organization coordinates the global response to fightingHIV/AIDS. It has been redefining its strategy over the last few months by engaging in broad consultations with itsstakeholders, including civil society, the UN and its agencies as well as its donors. One of UNAIDS main challenges is indelivering services to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The pandemic has made an already difficult situation worse indisrupting these services and in shifting financial resources to the fight against COVID-19.
Informed sources tell The G|O that UNAIDS is under severe financial stress and is considering cutting its staff by 40%over the next few years. The plan currently under consideration would first call for eliminating positions left open by staff retirements before making further staff redundant. The retirement scheme alone would lead to a 15% reduction of thecurrent staff over the next three years.
In its last financial report presented in July 2020, UNAIDS disclosed that its budget was US$184.2 million, short of its2019 target of US$242 million. Knowledgeable sources tell The G|O that the shortfall is due to a decline in funding forthe fight against HIV/AIDS.
Global funding for the response to HIV/AIDS declined for the first time in 2018, by nearly US$1 billion, as internationaldonors provided less, and national contributions did not keep up. Nonetheless, in 2018, more than half of all funding inlow- and middle-income countries came from domestic sources. In 2018, US$19 billion was available for the response,falling US$7.2 billion short of the estimated US$26.2 billion needed by 2020.
An independent audit also revealed important organizational issues, most notably a lack of clarity between WHO’s andUNAIDS’ mandate. Four main risks to the future of UNAIDS were highlighted in the report:
- A decrease in funding for AIDS and UNAIDS
- Unclear roles and jurisdictions in the multi-agency and intergovernmental efforts- Failure to attract people with the appropriate skills and experience
- Cosponsoring UN agencies have different overall agendas which limit their work on AIDS
Over 25 million people were on treatment against AIDS in 2019, according to the organization’s latest report. The report also reveals that 2019 saw 1.7 million new HIV infections in 2019. Approximately 690,000 people died in the same yearfrom AIDS-related illnesses. The target set in 2016 by the UN General Assembly was to lower that number to below halfa million.
UNAIDS did not return The G|O request for comments.