Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to first thank the Minister to the President of the Republic, in Charge of Defense for the opportunity to participate in this event marking another example of the partnership between our two governments.
HIV/AIDS is a major public health problem worldwide and a significant challenge on the African continent. Through the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Government has been working with many countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, to support programs to prevent further infections and to provide care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Aligned with those efforts, the United States Department of Defense works closely with the Ivorian Ministry of Defense to face the challenges of HIV/AIDS in the military, a priority for HIV/AIDS programs.
Priorities defined by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS can only be achieved through quality health services. Successful implementation requires strong systems, with trained staff, essential equipment and adequate infrastructure.
We are here today to recognize one important result of the collaboration between the Government of the United States and the Ministry of Defense.
Over the past year, the United States Embassy’s Security Cooperation Office, through the PEPFAR program, has worked closely with the Ministry of Defense to establish an HIV/AIDS Policy for the Ministry of Defense. Together we have built capacity through training and strengthened laboratory infrastructure to support HIV/AIDS services. This work has been possible, in part, because of the professional and active engagement of FHI 360, a U.S. based nonprofit human development organization with offices in Côte d’Ivoire. Activities that have been developed include training on Prevention with Positives (PwP); awareness of military, religious and community leaders against discrimination and stigma; implementation of the first HIV/AIDS behavioral and prevalence survey in the military population; and finally, rehabilitation of the medical facility which we are celebrating today.
Today, the Akouédo facility is ready to start providing HIV/AIDS services to military members and their families. It is, and will continue to be an honor for the U.S. Government to collaborate with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire in efforts to improve access to HIV diagnosis and life-saving treatment, while fighting discrimination and stigma to help create an AIDS free generation.
To the Minister and the personnel of the Ministry of Defense, to the government and people of Côte d’Ivoire,
The government and people of the United States have been committed to this fight for over a decade. You may be assured of our support in the years to come. Congratulations on the completion of this project, and thank you for your kind attention.