Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Despite challenging economic times, the US affirmed Wednesday it remains committed to a leadership role in the global AIDS response.
“Meeting the challenge of this disease will require commitment from all parties - including the governments of affected countries, donor governments, civil society, faith-based organisations, and the private sector,” said US Ambassador to Tanzania Alfonso E. Lenhardt.
In a statement on the eve of World AIDS Day, Lenhardt said the day was for reflection “on lives lost, and lives forever changed, as a result of AIDS.
“It is also an opportunity to pay tribute to more than 34 million people living with HIV worldwide. Today, we celebrate those lives saved and improved in Tanzania and recommit to the fight against AIDS.”
Lenhardt noted that collaborative efforts of the international community have made significant strides in Tanzania, the region and throughout the world in combating HIV/AIDS.
The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) World AIDS Day 2011 report shows that the total number of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa has dropped by more than 26 percent since the height of the epidemic in 1997, and the global number has dropped by 21 percent.
In Tanzania, as of September 2011, the US through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 287,193 men, women and children.
In fiscal year 2011 alone, PEPFAR directly supported 1,227,693 people in Tanzania with care and support programmes, including 368,064 orphans and vulnerable children.
Its efforts around prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes have allowed 1,436,049 pregnant women to be reached with HIV testing and counselling.
“Working with Tanzania, we are embracing smart investments to save more lives. Treatment – to save the lives of those infected, to prevent infection of others, and to prevent orphanhood by keeping parents alive – is a key evidence-based intervention, along with prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, and HIV testing,” said Lenhardt.
“In all we do, we are focusing on using our resources as effectively and efficiently as possible to maximize the human impact of our investments and save more lives,” the Ambassador said.
According to the diplomat, President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative is using health systems built through PEPFAR to address public health challenges in a more integrated and comprehensive way.
In Tanzania, PEPFAR is strengthening 63 nursing schools by improving access to up-to-date educational resources and helping schools transition from theoretical learning to more hands on training.
“This Nursing Initiative is increasing knowledge and skills for students to be better prepared in their work across the spectrum of diseases, including but not limited to HIV and AIDS, building the human capacity of the entire health care system and responding to the significant shortfall of qualified health care workers in Tanzania,” Lenhardt explained.
“On this World AIDS Day, we emphasize science as the way forward. Recent scientific breakthroughs have altered our outlook on the future of AIDS,” he pointed out, adding: “Of particular importance was a study showing that antiretroviral treatment reduces the likelihood of transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner by a remarkable 96 percent. ''
The Ambassador added: ''For the first time, with this and other tools, there is a potential path to eliminate this disease from the global landscape.
''By using new knowledge, we can implement more effective programmes to provide HIV prevention, treatment, and care to millions of people worldwide, and in communities throughout Tanzania.”
-0- PANA AR/SEG 30Nov2011