PITCH in 2020: continue to advocate for laws and policies grounded in health and human rights

PITCH in 2020: continue to advocate for laws and policies grounded in health and human rights

Reflections on the year ahead by Mark Vermeulen, Executive Director Aidsfonds, and Christine Stegling, Executive Director Frontline AIDS


Why we’re here

In 2015, we had the vision that advocacy should be instrumental in the HIV response, particularly for the most marginalised populations. The Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV response (PITCH) has provided a rare and focused opportunity, enabling communities to really make advocacy part of their DNA and to amplify the voice of key populations and adolescent girls and young women at all levels of the HIV response.

Achievements and challenges

Looking back over the last four years, we have achieved far-reaching successes. Some repressive laws and policies have been changed or blocked, ensuring human rights are upheld for marginalised people. The evidence collected has proven crucial in enabling the communities most affected by HIV to claim a seat at the table in national decision-making spaces, and increasingly to engage in meaningful dialogue with authorities. Many such interactions have already led to important policy changes, reflecting the needs and concerns of key populations and adolescent girls and young women. Community partners have also played an important role influencing the national plans of countries taking forward their universal health coverage (UHC) implementation, such as Kenya and Vietnam.


PITCH has enabled community voices to become more powerful and influential in the decision-making of funding mechanisms


At the global level, PITCH has enabled community voices to become more powerful and influential in the decision-making of funding mechanisms, such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR, and in policy spaces such as the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. However, these achievements are at risk. Globally, and in many of the PITCH countries, we are witnessing the harmful effects of rising populism and ultra-conservatism on civic space, especially for organisations and networks led by criminalised and marginalised communities. As the Global Fund transitions out of certain countries, and country coordinating mechanisms cease to exist, the gap between communities and governments is further widening, which risks diminishing the hard-won gains that have been made in demanding accountability of governments. This calls for strong coalitions of key population groups, in country and across regions.


Our final year: continuing to advocate, investing in sustainability and scaling up gender-transformative approaches


The wide array of results achieved by PITCH partners over the last four years has created a momentum that has put marginalised populations at the forefront of advocating for increased funding and for an HIV response that meets the needs of those who are most affected. Their unrelenting commitment has proven to be a source of inspiration, from which an ambitious agenda for 2020 has been set.

This year, PITCH partners will continue fighting for laws and policies that are grounded in health and human rights, taking on issues such as the criminalisation of sex work and of people who use drugs and the age of consent for young people accessing HIV services, as well as facing down alarming new legislative proposals in Indonesia and Uganda. The development of more focussed national and local advocacy strategies on domestic resource mobilisation and UHC will enable partners to engage early on in the development of national UHC packages, health budgets and community friendly health policies.


Sustaining the advocacy work of PITCH partners will be high on the agenda in 2020


We will build new partnerships and coalitions beyond the HIV response, both as a strategy for achieving change and in order to build constituencies of support for PITCH priorities that will endure beyond the end of the programme. Through training and peer-to-peer approaches, we will strengthen the capacity of partners to respond strategically to their changing contexts and use public communications as an integrated part of their advocacy.

Having intensified our focus on gender in 2019, in 2020 PITCH will continue building partners’ capacity to implement gender-transformative approaches and pursue advocacy asks that advance women’s rights and health, from advocating on the sexual and reproductive health and rights needs of women who use drugs to campaign on gender-based violence.

In some countries, the vision we had in 2015 is coming to fruition. In others, we still face many obstacles and in some cases increased pushback. However, at all levels, PITCH partners have put the stakes in the ground for sustained and successful community advocacy beyond the lifespan of the programme.


Together with partners we will seize every opportunity in 2020 and beyond.


The 2020 PITCH annual plan provides a high-level overview of the programme’s ambitions and aims for the coming year, read the annual plan here.


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