His Excellency Mr. Prime Minister,
Her Excellency Mrs. Minister of Health and Fight against HIV/AIDS ,
The Mayor of Koumassi,
The Director of UNAIDS,
The Director of RIP+,
Dear implementation partners,
Ladies and gentlemen ,
I am honored to join you here today to observe World AIDS Day 2014. As Côte d’Ivoire continues its critical efforts to gain control of the epidemic, the United States Government is commencing its eleventh year of successful partnership with the Ivoirian government. To date, with the generous support of the American people, through PEPFAR, the U.S. government has committed more than $1.1 billion to support the Ivoirian HIV/AIDS response.
On World AIDS 2014, nearly 35 years into the global AIDS epidemic, it is important to reflect on how far we have come in Côte d’Ivoire. Not so long ago, hospital beds were filled with dying patients, while other patients lay dying on the floor, and there was no medication to offer these sick individuals. Now, close to 70 percent of people in need of treatment in this country are receiving lifesaving antiretroviral medication.
In Côte d’Ivoire ten years ago, 45,000 people a year were tested for HIV, but last year almost 1.6 million people received their test results with PEPFAR support. Since 2004, we have increased eight-fold the number of HIV-positive mothers receiving prophylaxis to reduce the risk of infection to their babies, to over 16,000 pairs of mothers and babies in the past year. We now also have 130,000 people on antiretroviral treatment. Working in partnership, we have come a long way since the days when identifying and treating HIV was a mystery. But, together, we have more work to do to get to zero new infections and eliminating HIV.
This is why the U.S. government’s official theme for World AIDS 2014 isFocus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation. The theme captures the core elements of what is needed to reach this goal, which is outlined in the PEPFAR Blueprint.
Focus: We must deliver the right thing, in the right place, and at the right time. This means focusing on the highest impact interventions, bringing them to scale in key geographic areas and among the most vulnerable populations, and maintaining a sense of urgency to get ahead of the epidemic.
Partner: No one entity alone can create an AIDS-free generation. It will take all of us, working together to get there. This means strengthening our partnerships with government leaders, the Global Fund, the UN family, the private sector, the faith community, and civil society.
Achieve: At the end of the day, it is about results – lives saved and new infections averted.
Our collective success will be measured by how well we work together to target and tailor our efforts toward controlling the epidemic in Côte d’Ivoire. That means stronger collaboration and coordination than ever before to ensure that our respective investments are used efficiently and effectively, and with maximal impact.
The vision for the next phase of the HIV/AIDS is partnering to deliver an AIDS-free generation with sustainable results. This vision is supported by ensuring accountability, transparency, and impact of all of our programs
Together, we are also contributing to UNAIDS’ goal of 90:90:90 by 2020 in Côte d’Ivoire, including ensuring that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status. Knowing that we are not yet serving all these people in the right places, PEPFAR has initiated a project with a network of private clinics, including at the Central Clinic of Abobo. At this location and 14 other clinics in Abidjan, including the Cabinet Médical de Koumassi and the Espace Médical les Ruches de Koumassi, staff members have received training to provide HIV testing, counseling and treatment services onsite. Since September of this year, the Central Clinic of Abobo has provided testing to 483 patients (including 100 pregnant women), and within the pilot network, more than 725 patients have been tested. Other private clinics outside of Abidjan have already heard about the program and are asking how they can engage in the national response.
We have noted and commend some critical policy work over this past year, in which the Ivoirian government has shown its ongoing commitment to the national HIV response through advancing key policies that will have far-reaching effects on the ability of HIV programming to serve people in need. These policy changes include task sharing, which allows nurses to share the workload of treating HIV patients, and Option B+, which provides life-long treatment to HIV positive mothers and reduces the risk of transmission of HIV to their babies even after delivery.
Our partnership has proven that together we can have an impact. Moving forward, PEPFAR will continue to work with the Ivoirian government, private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders toward delivering sustainable results with transparency and accountability.
Over the upcoming year, Côte d’Ivoire has an excellent opportunity to expand these shifts and begin designing its national HIV strategy for the next five years. The U.S. Government, along with other partners, will support you in this effort, which will involve an in-depth look at the resources required to end HIV by 2030. With current funding commitments reaching the limits of how far they can stretch, the approach to HIV programming must shift, and we call on the Ivoirian Government to seek additional resources to best support the HIV response.
We have reached a critical moment in time at which we have an incredible opportunity to eliminate the HIV epidemic in Côte d’Ivoire and globally. If we act now to better focus the response and ensure it is appropriately resourced, the next generation of young people may not have to contend with the threat of HIV. If we do not act, we will face a much longer and more difficult fight. Heading into 2015, we are closer than we have ever been before. The strong partnership between PEPFAR and Côte d’Ivoire is crucial to achieving this vision. By pushing ahead together, an AIDS-free generation is within our reach.