It is a great honor and pleasure for me to join you today to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Project Retrovirus (RETRO-CI). Thank you all for coming together to recognize the important work done at RETRO-CI over these last 25 years.
I would first like to recognize those responsible for giving life to RETRO-CI. We are calling them our “pioneers.” These tireless colleagues and government officials, all professionals, made possible 25 years of remarkably successful research and capacity building in Cote d’Ivoire. Thank you for all you have done. Your gift to the people of Côte d’Ivoire, Africa, and the whole world is one that keeps on giving.
We are celebrating today a story of great success. It is a story of partnership between the governments of the United States of America and Cote d’Ivoire. It is a partnership that has changed over time.
RETRO-CI began as a joint initiative between the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Belgian Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM), and the Ministry of Health of Cote d’Ivoire (MOH). It has become an elite institution. It has developed national and regional protocols in HIV surveillance, prevention, care and treatment. It has also built tremendous laboratory capacity for Côte d’Ivoire and Africa. Its impact is felt far beyond its core work to eradicate HIV/AIDS.
RETRO-CI is guiding us towards an AIDS-free generation. RETRO-CI has helped us recognize that to achieve that goal we must deliver the right intervention, in the right parts of the country, and to the most vulnerable people. Our efforts must be programmatically and financially sustainable. RETRO-CI and the capacity it has helped create allow us to constantly evaluate our programs and to ensure we are reaching our goal.
I am confident that this celebration and the “Science Day Presentations” will be an opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come with the help of RETRO-CI over the past 25 years. My government has high expectations for this partnership and for what it will be able to accomplish in the future.
All the pioneers of the Retro-CI project, many of whom were able to join us here today, should be proud of their great example of American-Ivoirian partnership and the successful technical collaboration between our people.
Happy 25th anniversary!