The global response to HIV/ AIDS has changed dramatically over the last decade. UNAIDS is a United Nations programme that supports 10 corresponding UN organisations and works with other partners.
Established in 1996, it was set up to coordinate the HIV/ AIDS response in countries affected by the pandemic and increase attention to the issues. In 2001, after 10 years of being in operation, an evaluation was sought to assess whether UNAIDS has met its aims over the previous 5 years. By 2007, UN organisational reforms, the AIDS epidemic and the global response to it had considerably changed the context of UNAIDS. Therefore, a second evaluation was commissioned in 2007 to assess the progress made between 2002 and 2008.
Itad led the first evaluation in 2001, with the Netherlands Royal Tropical Institute, staff at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and 6 regional partners. As the first step, an evaluation framework was developed to identify sources of information and evaluation questions. Information was gathered in a variety of ways: reviews of documents, interviews with staff and corresponding agencies and field visits to 10 countries to observe the work of the programme.
Itad also led the second evaluation in 2007, this time with HLSP. It was organised around 12 sets of questions, designed to assess the performance of UNAIDS. Data was gathered in a similar way to the first, through document review, interviews with staff and stakeholders, visits to 12 countries in different regions of the world and meetings with various inter-linked organisations. ITAD founding director, Derek Poate, led both evaluations.
The first evaluation found that UNAIDS succeeded in establishing something that never existed before the programme was formed – a clear, global mandate with objectives that could be used to hold international leaders to account in the fight against HIV/ AIDS. Coordination activities at the global level were found to be effective in bringing consensus over policy and programming. These types of activities were less successful at the country level. The evaluation report stated that major changes will influence the way the programme operates in future and the role of UNAIDS must evolve to meet these challenges.
The second evaluation found that the programme has adapted to a changing context and forged new partnerships. It set out a series of 24 recommendations to make UNAIDS more focussed, strategic, flexible, responsive, accountable and efficient. Most of these recommendations were adopted by the programme’s governing body.Image © Western Cape, South Africa. Photo credit: Stephen A. Wolfe