World Aids Day Statement by UNAIDS Country Director Mr Girmay Haile

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1 December 2017, Bulawayo

  • The Honorable Guest of Honor NAC Board Chair, Dr Evaristo Marowa
  • Respected people living with HIV
  • Your Worship Mayor of BULAWAYO
  • NAC Chief Executive Officer,  Dr Magure
  • Networks of People Living with HIV
  • Honorable Members of the national assembly
  • Students and teachers, dressed in your beautiful uniforms and your colorful musical bands,
  • Civil society representatives
  • Officials of the MoHCC, other line ministries and government and provincial officials
  • The People of Zimbabwe 
  • All protocols observed,

Allow me today to bring to you a combined statement from the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe.

But before I do that please also allow me to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for the peaceful, civilized and dignified past few weeks in brining about a historic change to the country. I would also like to congratulate HE Emerson Mnangagwa for his peaceful and colorful swearing in as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

This World AIDS Day 2017, we are highlighting the importance of the right to health and the challenges that people living with and affected by HIV face in fulfilling that right. IMG_0873_1_0.JPG

The right to health is a fundamental human right everybody has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The world will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which include the target of ending AIDS by 2030, without people attaining their right to health. The right to health is interrelated with a range of other rights, including the rights to sanitation, food, decent housing, healthy working conditions and a clean environment.

The right to health means many different things: that no one person has a greater right to health care than anyone else; that there is adequate health-care infrastructure; that health-care services are respectful and non-discriminatory; and that health care must be medically appropriate and of good quality.

But the right to health is more than that: by attaining the right to health, people’s dreams and promises can be fulfilled. On every World AIDS Day, we look back to remember our family members and friends who have died from AIDS-related illnesses and recommit our solidarity with all who are living with or affected by HIV.

From the beginning, the AIDS response was built on the fundamental right to health and wellbeing. The AIDS community advocated for rights-based systems for health and to accelerate efforts for the world to understand HIV: how to prevent it and how to treat it.

Too many people especially those who are the most marginalized and most affected by HIV still face challenges in accessing the health and social services they urgently need. We all must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people being left behind and demand that no one is denied their human rights.

This year has seen significant steps on the way to meeting the 90–90–90 treatment targets towards ending AIDS by 2030. Nearly 21 million people living with HIV are now on treatment and new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are declining in many parts of the world.IMG_0877_0_0.JPG

However we shouldn’t be complacent. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new HIV infections have risen by 60% since 2010 and AIDS-related deaths by 27%. Western and Central Africa is still being left behind. Two out of three people are not accessing treatment. We cannot have a two-speed approach to ending AIDS. For all the successes, AIDS is not yet over. But by ensuring that everyone, everywhere accesses their right to health, it can be done.

Here in Zimbabwe, we celebrate Zimbabwe achievements and progress and the country stands among the five top HIV responses approaching control of their HIV Epidemic;

The 2016 ZIMPHIA results show a reduction of new infections from estimated 79,000 in 2010 to 33,000 in 2015;

The country has reached a highly commendable stage of the one-million-mark of PLHIV on treatment, signaling good progress towards achieving the 2020 ‘triple 90’ targets  with 74% testing, 87% on treatment and 87% viral suppression as we speak today;

Zimbabwe continues to demonstrate high-level leadership and commitment to the revitalization of the prevention agenda at country and at regional level with a positive supportive policy environment for prevention efforts, for sex workers and key populations. At this juncture I would like to express my sincere congratulations to Hon David Paris for his reappointment as Minster of Health. This appointment also confirms not only of the national high level commitment but also of Zimbabwe’s leadership in prevention coalition both at the sub regional and global levels. This is good news for Zimbabwe and congratulations. I would also urge the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the First Lady of Zimbabwe to take steps towards their enhanced roles and commitment for high level national and global advocacy in which the great successes of the HIV response of Zimbabwe is globally acknowledged and recognized.

Zimbabwe joined the world to launch the Global Prevention Coalition in October 2017 and has developed 100 day action plan which will guide the Country Road Map towards achieving the UN Political Declaration targets to deliver interventions on the five pillars of HIV prevention more especially prevention in adolescents, young girls and women and key populations.IMG_0878_1_0.JPG

The Global Prevention Coalition’s effort presents us with an opportunity to double our efforts in reduction of new infections and has opened space to critically review our national programme towards prioritization that is evidence based, realist and efficiently planned to catapult us to end AIDS by 2030.

As we move together to achieve the 90-90- 90 targets and the HIV prevention targets, we need to ensure the right to heath by all without discrimination is ensured and   health-care services are respectful and non-discriminatory.

Therefore a people centered approach and targeting location, population and reducing gender inequality and stigma and discrimination reduced in communities, places of work 

and health care settings will be paramount for all to ensuring the right to health by all people of Zimbabwe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lastly, I would like to commend the organisers and participants for an excellent, educational, informative and highly colorful programme of the WAD. Thank you Bulawayo!

I thank you and wish all of you good celebrations and an optimistic, constructive and responsive future as the country transitions into a new dispensation.

Finally, let me also express the UN’S deepest system deepest sympathies and condolences to the nation on its loss of former Minister of Health and the former Deputy Minister of Health. My their souls and the souls of the millions of AIDS deaths rest in internal peace. END