Reaching goals and rebuilding on the frontlines of paediatric and adolescent HIV service delivery during COVID
The PATA 2020 Summit, titled Breakthrough and Build Back Together! was held from 11-13 November 2020. Participants attended from across 27 countries through a virtual online hub and connected remotely or in person through attending a main or satellite spoke. Participants included frontline health providers and community partners, the broader PATA network of key global experts, policy makers, networks of young people living with HIV (YPLHIV), donors, and Ministry of Health representatives. This summit brought health providers and community partners together from twelve PATA priority countries (Eswatini, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) with many programme managers, policy makers and strategic partners joining in from fifteen additional countries.
The PATA 2020 Summit was unlike any other in that it was held in virtual and geographically dispersed locations. It did, however, manage to retain its ethos and intention of bringing people together, building solidarity and creating a platform to link and learn. The summit recognised that progress has been made, but that gaps not only remain, but are widening, and there is the potential for the reversal of gains if resources are diverted from the HIV response to COVID-19.
Central to the summit was the call for differentiated service delivery to ensure that the unique needs and circumstances of each child and adolescent are considered in delivering comprehensive service delivery models that effectively integrate health, wellness and HIV services that are delivered by clinics and communities working together. The PATA 2020 Summit foregrounded the unprecedented pressure facing frontline service providers in the context of the COVID-19 public health ‘earthquake’ and highlighted the fault lines and inequalities in health systems.
Ongoing investments, support, political will, leadership and commitment are required to ensure that the HIV response for children and adolescents remains on track.