The UNITE Global Summit: Virtual 2020 was held online on September 7-8.

This first UNITE Global Summit brought together political leaders and key stakeholders from across the world to reaffirm international co-operation towards the mission of ending the global threat of infectious diseases.

A key outcome of the Global Summit: Virtual was the pledging of support by parliamentarians and UNITE affiliate partners to the UNITE 2020 Global Summit Statement – calling on governments to take action and not lose sight of the SDGs in the midst and aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full Statement here.

This virtual event ended with the positive message that COVID-19 is a game-changer; it opens windows of opportunities to transform the global health order, while reaffirming the role of political leaders as the interface between civil society, academia, media, the private sector, national government, and international organisations. Global Summit speakers enacted the momentum needed for policymakers from parliaments, congresses, and senates to adopt life-changing policies. “Lives depend upon you”, as shared by the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom.

As a follow up to the event, UNITE published a handbook that provides an overview on the Global Summit programme and topics while offering key recommendations for policymakers.

Like the event itself, this handbook provides an overview on the current state of infectious diseases, from a policy perspective, and offers clear steps to address their elimination as public health threats, as expressed from experts on the frontlines.

This handbook aims to not only provide policymakers with the tools needed to affect change in their home countries while conveying the urgent global solidarity and investment required to transform the global health order and better serve our communities.

Download and read the full handbook here

Monday, September 7

Opening Session Speakers:

Ricardo Baptista Leite, Member of Parliament, Portugal; Founder & President, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network To End Infectious Diseases

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS

Martin Chungong, Secretary-General, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

Watch the full session here

A brave new world has arrived, and epidemiologists are sitting side-by-side with political leaders. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the global socio-political, economical, and cultural norms. By having public health at the centre of all decisions, governments and policy-makers have put their faith in epidemiologists and scientists to help find answers in the crisis and urgently find a vaccine that allow individuals to enjoy normalcy.What are the lessons learned in terms of preparedness for future outbreaks? How advanced is science in finding a vaccine? How did COVID-19 impact in bridging science to policy? What is the role of parliamentarians in responding effectively to public health crisis?
Session hosted by CEPI & Wellcome Trust.
Moderated by Gabrielle Fitzgerald – Founder and CEO, Panorama Global
Sylvie Briand – Director, Global Infectious Hazards Preparedness Department, WHO Health Emergencies Programme

Richard Hatchett – CEO, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI)

  • Rapid vaccine development and fair global access as key tool for future preparedness

Alex Harris – Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, Wellcome Trust 

  • Epidemics: why we have seen little progress in global preparedness and the case for collective action

Michael Weinstein – CEO, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

  • Why the world needs a Global Public Health Convention?

Watch the full session here

Representing a fundamental threat to progress made in reducing deaths caused by malaria, COVID-19 brings a serious risk to the work implemented by key global health partners, like the Global Fund and RBM Partnership to End Malaria. Coordinating efforts to achieve a world without malaria is becoming more difficult as domestic resource mobilization is at risk and essential services are being diverted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mitigating these effects and avoiding excess deaths will demand an extraordinary reorganization of the global health funding mechanisms, with a certainty that both direct and knock-off impacts will be devasting to certain communities and to the countries that still depend on weak health systems.

How can innovation & diagnostics play a role in reshaping the global response to malaria? Is domestic production of medication and diagnostics a path for endemic countries? How can legislators intervene in ensuring more coverage of mosquito nets? How can policymakers scale-up the commitment to the malaria response in times of COVID-19 to ensure progress is not lost for the SDGs?

Session hosted by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria & The RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

Moderated by Joy Phumaphi – Executive Secretary, African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)


Mutahi Kagwe – Cabinet Secretary of Health, Kenya

  • Opening Remarks on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chairmanship of ALMA

Scott Boule – Senior Specialist, Parliamentary Affairs, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

  • Framing Remarks on current resource mobilization efforts and needs for the next 12 months

Topsy Sikalinda – End Malaria Council Member from the Zambia Revenue Authority

  • Delivering joint COVID/Malaria messages by Zambia’s national End Malaria Council

Richard Kamwi – Former Health Minister, Namibia; Ambassador of the Elimination 8

  • Regional collaboration to address stock-outs resulting from COVID/malaria co-infection in Southern Africa

Olivia Ngou – Global Coordinator, Civil Society Network for Malaria Elimination

  • Civil Society engagement with parliamentarians to support health budgets, inclusive of COVID and malaria 

Scott Filler – Head of Malaria, Technical Advice and Partnerships Department, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

  • Financing malaria programs in the era of COVID-19: country examples highlighting risks, opportunities and challenges

Watch the full session here.

The HIV response empowered the idea that communities worldwide are the resilient force in greater alignment of international partners. However, the gap between international and nation HIV policymakers and towards those fighting the epidemic in communities around the world is too wide. In addition to this fight, we face a fact: Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Although prevention and curable, TB is the leading cause of death for people living with HIV worldwide. Despite efforts of better diagnostics, TB can remain difficult to diagnose in people living with HIV.

How can we mobilize the HIV response to ensure wider people-centered policies? What are the needs of vulnerable populations in access to diagnostics and treatment when co-infected by HIV & TB? What means political commitment to address HIV/TB policies for co-infection? How can political leaders foster integrated services and ensure a fair, stigma-free and human-rights based access to those? What contributions to the SDGs can policy-makers bring by leading this cause?

Session hosted by IAS – the International AIDS Society.

Co-moderated by Jeffrey Lazarus, Co-Chair, HIV Outcomes; Associate Professor, Barcelona Institute for Global Health &

Julian Kerboghossian, Coordinator, Adolescent Treatment Coalition


Adeeba Kamarulzaman; President of IAS – the International AIDS Society; Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya

  • Person centred, inclusive and quality care – integrating HIV, TB and harm reduction services to meet the complex health needs of people living with and vulnerable to HIV 

Nick Herbert, Co-Chair, Global TB Caucus

  • Political leadership – Galvanizing attention to Tuberculosis and integration with HIV 

Susan Buchbinder, Director of HIV Prevention Research, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Clinical Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California

  • Threats and Opportunities in Pursuit of a HIV Vaccine

Martina Penazzato, Pediatric lead for the HIV, Hepatitis and STIs Department, World Health Organization

  • Mind the gap – accelerating access to treatment and meeting the needs of diverse children and adolescents 

Watch the full session here.

Session moderated by Dakota Gruener – Executive Director, ID2020

Closing Session Speakers:

Hind Khatib-Othman, Chair, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

  • Sanitation and Hygiene – the first line of defense against pandemics and a key to achieving the SDGs

Catharina Boehme – CEO, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND)

Morounfolu (Folu) Olugbosi – Senior Director, Clinical Development, TB Alliance

  • Spurring Global Collaboration to Develop New TB Therapies

Jerome Kim – Director-General, International Vaccine Institute

Alan Donelly – Convener of the G20 Health Development Partnership

  • Follow-up question & comments on The role of G20 Leadership in ending communicable diseases

Watch the full session here.

Tuesday, September 8

Opening Statements given by:

Detlev Gantem, President, World Health Summit

Paul Maritz, Chairman of the Board, Digital Inclusion Foundation 

Moderation by Ricardo Baptista Leite, Member of Parliament of Portugal; Founder & President, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases

Watch the full session here.

Innovation in times of crisis means that new solutions and new paths will be available at the hands of decision makers. The process of innovation creation it is not exclusively allocated to the private sector nor to philanthropy. Instead, to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen unprecedented commitment in accelerated development and equitable access to safe and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. Finding real, palpable, and life-changing solutions for the most vulnerable is achieved when we trigger innovation at the heart of policymaking, resource mobilization, strategic advocacy, and technology.

What is the role of innovation in responding the COVID-19 response? How can public-private partnerships be an example of shared profit for all relevant stakeholders? To what extent, the private sector has a leading role in putting innovation at the heart of the COVID-19 response? How can policymakers, as gatekeepers and representatives of vulnerable populations, foster favourable environments for innovation?

Moderated by Roland Göhde – Board Chairman, GHA – German Health Alliance 


Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao – Managing Director, Resource Mobilization, Private Sector Partnerships & Innovative Finance Department, GAVI 

  • Innovations to ensure equity in access to COVID-19

Mauricio Cysne – Director, External Relations and Communications, UNITAID

  • Innovations in therapeutics to prevent and treat COVID-19

Joelle Tanguy – External Affairs Director, Drug for Neglected Diseases initiative

Christoph Benn – Director, Global Health Diplomacy, The Joep Lange Institute

  • Innovation in health care delivery through digital transformation

Watch the full session here.

COVID-19 reinforced what civil society leaders and public experts knew already: people living with infectious diseases are not treated equal by societies, by justice systems or even by health facilities. In fact, in many settings around the world, science-based & data-driven information is alienated by ‘war on drugs’ policies and strict incarceration practices that put basic human rights at risk.

Transforming drug policy into state legislation which is evidence based and with a health, human rights and sustainable development focus requires strong lawmakers who are able to coordinate the scientific arguments, human rights advocacy and the public health treats over this issue. Moreover, lawmakers have an opportunity to see drug policy reforms as a process that allows countries to witness economic benefits through reduced spending on law enforcement and incarceration.

What is the role of policymakers in drug policy reform? How can policy-makers work with civil society in introducing measures for the regulation of cannabis for recreational use? What are the economic benefits of such reforms? Why the SDGs cannot be achieved without ending the ‘war on drugs’?

Session moderated by Mike Trace – CEO, Forward Trust


Mike Trace – CEO, Forward Trust

  • From Repression to Health and Human Rights: The need for a paradigm shift in drug policy

Lord Simon Wooley – Member, House of Lords; Founder & Director, Operation Black Vote

  • Decriminalization: An essential step towards race equality

Chlöe Swarbrick – Member of Parliament, New Zealand

  • Report from New Zealand: The referendum on a regulated cannabis market

Seth Acheampong – Member of Parliament, Ghana & Anne-Maria Goretti – International Consultant, International Drug Policy Consortium

  • Report from Ghana: The fight to decriminalize drug possession

Rodrigo Vélez – Founder & General Director, Parametria

  • Report from Ecuador: Drug Decriminalization

Crispin Blunt – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

  • The fight to open safe injecting facilities

Adeeba Kamarulzaman – President of the IAS – The International AIDS Society

  • Report from Malaysia: Getting reform through a divided parliament

Watch the full session here.


Preparedness and response to current and future public health crises, identify principles to which countries might agree for a global public health convention. This ambitious convention will define new guidance towards preventing, preparing, containing and ending infectious disease outbreaks to protect the global community when an outbreak occurs. In 2005, unprecedented commitment by Member States, at the World Health’s Organization Assembly, was achieved by the implementation of the International Health Regulations. The COVID-19 outbreak, however, has shown the significant gaps and shortfalls within these regulations. Numerous challenges continue to impede IHR’s effectiveness although some progress has been made by implementing them in several countries.

And now, amidst an impactful global health diplomacy crisis, what will it take for countries to agree to these principles, policies or rules for collaboration around global health protection before the next outbreak occurs? What reforms we should make now, and which ones we should look at post-pandemic? How can we achieve a comprehensive public convention by leaving no one behind?

Session hosted by AIDS Healthcare Foundation & University of Miami.

Co-moderated by Jorge Saavedra – Executive Director, AHF Global Public Health Institute, University of Miami &

Jose Szapocznik – Professor & Chair Emeritus, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami


Michael Weinstein – CEO, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) 

  • Opening Remarks

Julio Frenk – former Secretary of Health, Mexico; President, University of Miami

  • Opening Remarks

Jorge Saavedra – Executive Director, AHF Global Public Health Institute, University of Miami

  • What has been the problem?

Jose Szapocznik – Professor & Chair Emeritus, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami

  • Methodology for consulting experts and recommendations

DAME Barbara M. Stocking DBE – President, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge; Former Chief Executive, Oxfam  

  • Continuity between the Ebola report and the GPHC report 

Lawrence O. Gostin – Director, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law; Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on National and Global Health Law 

  • Discuss recommendations for reform that are reflected in the GPHC Report 

Maksut Kulzhanov – Professor and Founder, Kazakhstan School of Public Health; Former Deputy Minister of Health, Kazakhstan 

  • Governance of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria: Small But Diverse Global Board 

Akua Sena Dansua – UNITE’s Regional Chair for Western & Central Africa; Former Ambassador, Member of Parliament and Minister for Tourism, Minister for Youth and Sports and Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs, Ghana 

Gisela Scaglia – Member of Parliament, Argentina; UNITE’s Regional Chair for Latin America & The Caribbean, Member of Parliament, Argentina 

Ricardo Baptista Leite – Member of Parliament, Portugal; Founder & President, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases 

Aminata Touré – Prime Minister of Senegal (2013-2014) and Club de Madrid Member

  • What is the role of countries in establishing a global organization required to prevent future pandemics?

Watch the full session here.

Keynote Statement led by Dr. José M. Zuniga, President/CEO, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care & Chair of the Fast-Track Cities Institute

Session will be moderated by Ricardo Baptista Leite – Member of Parliament, Portugal; Founder & President, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases. 

Watch the full session here.

This session will include the unveiling of a message from the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, in support of the UNITE Summit Statement ‘Keeping the SDGs in sight amidst COVID-19’.

Session moderated by Victoria Grandsoult – Executive Director, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network

Ricardo Baptista Leite – Member of Parliament, Portugal; Founder & President, UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases

Gisela Scaglia – Member of Parliament, Argentina; UNITE Chapter Chair Latin America & The Caribbean

Akua Dansua – Former Member of Parliament, Ghana; UNITE Chapter Chair for West & Central Africa

Esther Passaris – Member of Parliament, Kenya; UNITE Chapter Chair for Eastern & Southern Africa

Ibtissame Azzaoui – Member of Parliament, Morocco; UNITE Chapter Chair for Middle East & North Africa

Andrew Ullman – Member of Parliament, Germany; UNITE Chapter Chair for Western & Central Europe

Mariam Jashi – Member of Parliament, Georgia; UNITE Chapter Chair for Eastern Europe & Central Asia 

Pia Cayetano – Senator, the Philippines; UNITE Chapter Chair for Asia & Pacific

Guest Speaker:

Liam Byrne – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom; Chair, Parliamentary Network of the World Bank & the International Monetary Fund

  • Strong Parliamentarism for Global Development

Watch the full session here.

Closing Session chaired by Ricardo Baptista Leite, Founder & President of UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization

Donna Shalala; Former Secretary of Health and Human Services; Congresswoman; United States

Watch the full session here.