UNITAID has established itself as a pioneering innovative financing mechanism with a successful business model to improve product markets for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries, according to UNITAID’s first independent Five-Year Evaluation.
The full independent evaluation report was endorsed at the 17th UNITAID Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
“This positive evaluation comes just a few months after French President François Hollande acknowledged the success of UNITAID during the United Nations General Assembly,” said Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chairman of the UNITAID Executive Board. “I would like to thank France and other countries for their strong commitment to this innovative endeavour to save lives. As the evaluation states: “This success would not have been possible without strong leadership from France and other early partners including Brazil, Chile, Norway, and the United Kingdom”.”
According to the evaluation: “UNITAID has been doing the right things to contribute to significant positive outcomes in the fight against the three diseases… The evaluation finds that over the course of the evaluation period, UNITAID has validated its business model of identifying, selecting and funding market-shaping interventions carried out by implementing partners.”
These market interventions have achieved UNITAID’s stated goals of improving market and public health outcomes. Moreover, the evaluators found that “there are strong indications that many of these projects achieve better outcomes than those of traditional investments in public health service delivery because of a multiplier effect”. In an increasingly difficult economic context, “these market-shaping approaches could provide important lessons to other agencies and countries seeking to increase programme effectiveness”.
The evaluation also analysed UNITAID’s multilateral membership, with countries contributing through the air ticket levy or through multi-year government contributions. “It is highly likely that the successful market and health outcomes could only have been achieved by a multilateral agency – indeed, it is hard to imagine that any bilateral agency or private entity could have achieved what UNITAID has achieved in this time frame”, the evaluation found.
The evaluation team issued a set of recommendations to UNITAID to increase its market and public health impact. “If UNITAID succeeds in delivering on its full promise, over time and through much hard work, it could even help inform and inspire other efforts to deploy innovative financing and market-shaping approaches to tackle global development challenges beyond the three diseases,” concluded the evaluation summary.
The independent evaluation was carried out at the request of the UNITAID Executive Board. The evaluation was managed by an Independent Steering Committee (ISC) which reported to the UNITAID Executive Board. The ISC selected UK-based firm ITAD to conduct the evaluation, following an open call for tenders.
ITAD had full access to UNITAID documentation and carried out an in-depth analysis of all UNITAID-funded projects, interviewing over 100 stakeholders including UNITAID Executive Board Members, staff, and implementers. The evaluation team also visited Kenya and Cameroon, to see how UNITAID-funded projects are being implemented and interview government officials and community-level representatives.
UNITAID (www.unitaid.eu) is a global health initiative launched in 2006 by the Governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom to provide sustainable funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. About 70% of UNITAID’s funds come from a small levy on airline tickets. Through implementers, UNITAID finances the purchase of quality-assured drugs and diagnostics for patients in poor countries, using its market power to expand supply, promote development of new and better products, cut delivery lead times and reduce prices.