The General Assembly’s three-day high-level plenary meeting on HIV/AIDS concluded today amid calls for redoubled efforts and greater funding to eradicate the epidemic by 2030, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals.
In closing remarks, Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) said speakers had repeatedly stressed that “together, we have the power, the resources, the knowledge and the technology to fast-track our HIV/AIDS response and to make ending the AIDS epidemic one of the first — and one of the many — amazing successes of the SDG era.”
Speaking in the plenary debate on the last day were ministers and other senior officials from Bahamas, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Greece, Bangladesh, Nepal, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Tajikistan, Jordan, Iran, Georgia, Morocco, Seychelles, Belarus, Colombia, Bulgaria, Nicaragua, Cabo Verde, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Peru, Estonia, Cameroon, Mauritius, Australia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Guatemala and Finland, as well as the Holy See.
Representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Inter-Parliamentary Union, League of Arab States, Partners in Population and Development and the Internationla Labour organization also made statements.
Statements made by PPD Member countries at the High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS.
JAGAT PRAKASH NADDA, Minister for Health and Family Welfare of India, noted that strong political will and concerted action over the last decade had contributed to strong achievements in pushing back the epidemic. As the number of HIV-affected people benefitting antiretroviral therapy had increased substantially and the number of annual AIDS-related deaths had dropped considerably, the target of ending that epidemic by 2030 was realistic. For its part, India had been able to manage the challenge effectively. AIDS-related deaths had been reduced by 55 per cent since 2007 and around 1 million affected people were currently receiving antiretroviral therapy. Those remarkable successes would not have been possible without access to affordable medicine, he said, noting that the low cost generic medicines had been instrumental in scaling up access to necessary treatment. To make further progress globally, it was essential to adopt fast-track targets that had been proposed by UNAIDS, increase investments, ensure access to affordable medicines and commodity security and to create an inclusive society.
JOSÉ NARRO ROBLES, Minister for Health of Mexico, said there was a possibility of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030 and emphasized that progress achieved had not been a coincidence. To move forward, it was crucial to identify high-risk groups, including people with disabilities, men having sex with men, people who used drugs, sex workers and transgender people. Including key populations in the response efforts would enable the international community to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In that regard, overcoming homophobia and transphobia was essential, he said, noting that the Government had ensured that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fully exercised their rights. Drawing attention to the lack of awareness regarding HIV status, he stressed the need to adopt holistic strategies, such as science-based sexual education and access to universal health care. In addition, new technologies must be used based on confidentiality, he noted.tional Labour Organization also spoke
CLEOPA MAILU, Health Cabinet Secretary of Kenya, said a committed multi-sector HIV response could rally resources of different Government agencies, communities and stakeholders towards a common goal and accelerate access to services. Sharing national experiences, he noted that Kenya had made significant progress. HIV prevalence had dropped from 13 to 6 per cent, and new adult infections had been reduced from 110,000 to 72,000. Furthermore, the Ministry had aggressively scaled up treatment and put over 900,000 people living with HIV on life-long antiretroviral therapy. In addition, he noted that 72 per cent of Kenyans had been tested at least once, and stigma levels stood at 45 per cent. The gains made had been driven by many factors such as high quality research, implementation of innovative approaches, and availability of commodities, he said, while acknowledging existing gaps and challenges. To address them, it was crucial to adopt bold com.
DAVID PAGWESESE PARIRENYATWA, Minister for Health and Child Care of Zimbabwe, said the HIV and AIDS pandemic remained a major challenge for his country, which had nevertheless recorded some progress towards ending AIDS by 2030. A sustained focus on prevention had seen its HIV incident rate drop from 0.95 per cent in 2013 to 0.81 per cent in 2015, while the prevalence rate held steady at around 15 per cent. Services for key populations, including youth people, truck drivers, sex workers and prisoners, had been prioritized. A total of $5 million had been allocated for community-driven HIV prevention interventions, prompted in part by a hotspot mapping exercise that showed some areas having more cases of infection than others. Through a public-private partnership, antiretroviral drugs were being made available to private pharmacies at a reduced price, targeted at those who did not like to attend public medical facilities. Although Zimbabwe’s home-grown National Aids Trust Fund was growing, it still experienced funding gaps, he said, appealing to partners and donors to renew their commitments.
SAÏD AÏDI, Minister for Health of Tunisia, said global efforts must be intensified to end AIDS by 2020, stressing that his country’s approach was people-centred and based on rights and equality in health care. The 2014 Constitution offered the opportunity to strengthen respect for human rights, equality and access to healthcare without discrimination. National strategic plans to combat AIDS had been systematically implemented and always included screening, combined prevention, access to treatment and anti-discrimination provisions. The current national strategic plan aimed to achieve the three zeros, while reforms of health care prioritized prevention. Among its aims was to address new challenges in combating HIV. Tunisia had joined the UNAIDS global call to fast-track the response, as well as contributed to the development of the Arab Strategy to combat HIV/AIDS. More broadly, he said challenges faced by countries included unsatisfactory access to screening and treatment, gender disparity and a lack of funds.
VU DUC DAM, Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, recalled that while attending a world AIDS summit in 1994, there was fear and confusion among delegates, no effective treatment available and very little hope. Today, HIV prevention had been strengthened, more people could access life-saving treatment and stigma and discrimination had been reduced. Yet, 2 million people were newly infected in 2015 and more than 20 million still lacked access to antiretroviral treatment. In Viet Nam, HIV prevention and control was among the highest priorities and the epidemic had been largely controlled. Noting that it had been the first country in Asia to commit to the 90-90-90 targets, he said Viet Nam nonetheless required international partnership. To make that point, he said a woman living with HIV, Lu Thi Thanh, was attending the high-level meeting today as part of his delegation. She and her HIV-positive husband had become parents to a healthy baby girl — a miracle made possible by an internationally financed project aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission. “Without this she would probably not be with us today,” he stressed
PIYASAKOL SAKOLSATAYADORN, Minister for Public Health of Thailand, said that his country tackled AIDS first by stabilizing it, then rolling it back, then reversing it with strong determination. Besides a strong and consistent political commitment, Thailand had focused its efforts on “five I’s” — innovation, investment, intersectorial actions, intelligence and an intensive approach that involved reaching key populations, testing those at risk, treating those found to be HIV positive and retaining both negative and positive key populations in the prevention, care and treatment continuum. Going forward, additional social innovations would be needed, in parallel with biomedical innovations, in order to assist hard-to-reach groups, including migrants, men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.mitments in the Political Declaration.
KESETEBIRHAN ADMASU, Minister for Health of Ethiopia, associating himself with the African Group, noted that the continent continued to bear the brunt of the global HIV epidemic, with nearly 71 per cent of all cases worldwide and 90 per cent of HIV transmissions to children. Outlining the policy, legal, institutional and administrative measures taken by Ethiopia to fight the HIV epidemic, he reported an unprecedented decline in the rate of new infections. However, there were substantial variations in prevalence and the risk of infection between population groups and geographic areas. To address that challenge, Ethiopia was following an investment case approach that focused on prevention, care and treatment, in line with the 90-90-90 targets set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). An urban fast-track HIV initiative to stem the transmission would be followed soon by a programme to identify HIV-positive individuals and connect them with care and treatment.
URELIEN AGBENONCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Benin, associating himself with the African Group, said that despite encouraging progress, there was no room for complacency. In several developing countries, new infections were on the rise, while stigmatization, discrimination, prejudice and repressive legislation remained widespread. Millions were meanwhile not getting appropriate treatment, he said. Fighting HIV and AIDS required sustained financial support, but that was a challenge in the context of declining international assistance. To meet the objectives of its new national HIV/AIDS plan for 2015-2017, Benin would require 52 billion CFA francs. Such a paradoxical situation called for innovative financing strategies, he said, calling upon
GoNILA F. MOELOEK, Minister for Health of Indonesia, recalled that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit Declaration on HIV/AIDS had been guided by the goal of “zero infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths”. For its part, Indonesia’s efforts included a harm-reduction programme that was among the first in the region. As a result, HIV prevalence among injection drug users had fallen to 29 per cent in 2015 from 42 per cent in 2011. In Indonesia, strengthening the health-care system was crucial as it was a platform to integrate different programmes. Her Government recognized that the first “90” was essential to achieve other “90s”, which required resources and expanding services to hard-to-reach key populations, such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, injection drug users, adolescents and young people. Indonesia must enhance its prevention efforts to reach all populations where HIV prevalence had continued to rise, while leveraging the use of information and communications technologies and community-based screening.vernments to make greater efforts to turn back the trend of reduced external financing.
AWA MARIE COLL-SECK, Minister for Health and Social Action of Senegal, associating herself with the African Group, said a turning point had been reached in the national fight against AIDS. Its prevalence rate had held steady at around 0.7 per cent for 10 years while new infections were down 50 per cent. Those results had been made possible by the engagement and leadership of the President, she said. In the context of diminishing financing in affected countries, there was no option but to combine efforts and become more inventive in mobilizing resources and partners. Africa, which had paid the heaviest price of AIDS, must step up the mobilization of its resources, both internal and external, in order to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
ISAAC ADEWOLE, Minister for Health of Nigeria, said a national antiretroviral treatment programme, one of the largest in Africa, served more than 750,000 people, representing an astronomical increase from 2002, when less than 10,000 had participated. With an additional 2.5 million people expected to be put on treatment over the next three years, more needed to be done, he said. Since adopting a multisectoral approach, the Government had expanded universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and had promoted the needs and rights of vulnerable groups, including legislation in 2013 criminalizing discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS. Nigeria had also led a region and subregional mechanism to address HIV/AIDS in Africa, he said, adding that the race to end HIV/AIDS by 2030 would be incomplete without specifically targeting such vulnerable and high-risk groups as women and children.
ARON MOTSOALEDI, Minister for Health of South Africa, said that over the years, the Government had intensified its efforts to deal with HIV/AIDS. South Africa had the largest programme in the world with more than 3.4 million people on antiretroviral therapy. “We need to intensify our prevention efforts otherwise we will not be able to reach the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said, expressing the Government’s commitment to reach the 90-90-90 targets. South Africa had benefited and contributed to the Global Fund. Drawing attention to its successful results, he urged donors to continue their support. Furthermore, for more than a decade, the price of first-line antiretroviral treatment had dropped significantly, contributing to success in reaching millions of HIV-positive people. However, he expressed concern that legal, socioeconomic and structural issues continued to drive the epidemic. In order to ensure that no one was left behind, it was essential to find ways to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs of all.
OMAR SEY, Minister for Health and Social Welfare of Gambia, said that across the globe, growing numbers of people living with HIV had access to life-saving treatment, the number of deaths from AIDS-related causes had declined and fewer babies had been infected with HIV. Such progress was the result of concerted efforts and global leadership commitments, he said, recognizing the meaningful participation of civil society and key populations. While much had been achieved, more remained to be done because evidence had shown that high-risk populations were being left behind. Girls and young women often lacked formal paid jobs and, in many societies, early marriage and harmful traditional practices had remained deeply rooted, preventing adolescent girls and young women from seeking services. For its part, the Government had made remarkable strides, banning female genital mutilation and expecting to continue to contribute to the national response to HIV/AIDS. In addition, Gambia had achieved gender parity in education and had aligned the priorities of gender equality with related instruments, including the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
TAREK SALMAN, Deputy Minister for Health of Egypt, associating himself with the African Group, described how the Government had intensified efforts through a national strategy based on human rights, universal access to prevention and treatment services and gender equality. Bolstered efforts aimed at promoting a treatment system that encouraged patients to benefit from services and addressing stigma and discrimination. Underlining such challenges as the misuse of intellectual property, failure to transfer technology and persisting monopolies, he stressed the role of the family in promoting social values, adding that homosexuality, sex work and injecting drugs were part of the problem. Egypt had renewed its commitment to cooperate with its partners to halt HIV/AIDS through strategies in line with its social, religious and cultural traditions.
XIA GANG, Deputy Director-General of the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, said HIV/AIDS was both a social and a global health issue. China had integrated an AIDS programme into its overall national health goals and made efforts to address stigma and discrimination. Thanks to many years of hard work, it had largely been able to keep prevalence levels low while reducing the death rate. Noting how the Political Declaration highlighted a global determination to win the fight against AIDS, he stressed the need for responsibility to be shared by developing and developed countries, with the latter selflessly extending support to the former. With demand for testing and treatment poised to grow rapidly, multinational pharmaceutical companies had to dramatically reduce the price of medicine and transfer technology, he said.
SYED MONJURUL ISLAM, Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Family Planning ofBangladesh, said the Political Declaration should have acknowledged the social, cultural and religious norms and values and the legal frameworks of all Member States. Bangladesh was a low-prevalence country, with less than 0.1 per cent of people affected by HIV. However, it had a concentrated epidemic among people who injected drugs in Dhaka. Despite risks posed by neighbouring countries and migrant workers, Bangladesh had kept HIV from gaining ground for more than two decades though the evidence-based implementation of prevention, care support and treatment. Earlier 2016, the Government had co-hosted the twelfth International Congress on AIDS in the Asia Pacific, which had reviewed needs and urged political commitment and investment in the HIV response. He advocated scaling-up case detection through mixed models for community-based and provider-initiated HIV testing, ensuring universal access to antiretroviral therapy and integrating prevention services into the existing infrastructure.
DARSHAN PUNCHI, Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services of Pakistan, urged all actors to rise above narrow interests and focus on the need to end HIV. Pakistan had a low HIV prevalence, below 1 per cent. Yet, prevalence among injection drug users was 27.2 per cent, followed by transgender sex workers. Ending HIV/AIDS and alleviating poverty must be supported by international cooperation. Scientific breakthroughs and lessons learned from scaling up the AIDS response provided the tools to end AIDS by 2030. Pakistan was committed to controlling the epidemic, providing strong national and provincial support for prevention, treatment and care and reducing stigma and discrimination, for which the Government had invested 300 million rupees.
DINA KAWAR (Jordan) said regional instability, including the movement of persons, could lead to new communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Jordan enjoyed low HIV prevalence. A health ministry programme to fight AIDS had been developed, with the first case detected in 1986. UNAIDS was supporting an update to Jordan’s first policy, which covered 2005 to 2009. A new plan would present the current status of the epidemic and any gaps in the existing national response. It would be based on enhancing the availability of information, focusing on the most at-risk populations; improving detection; providing care to people living with HIV; creating a legally supportive environment; and building institutional and technical capacities to implement the response. Committed to the International Labour Organization (ILO) code of practice to protect the right to work for people living with HIV/AIDS, Jordan would bring national legislation into line with international criteria. It also observed the 2013 Arab Strategic Framework for HIV/AIDS, aimed at reducing HIV by more than 50 per cent by 2020.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the battle against AIDS must be waged through collective action, responsibility and commitment. Morocco had taken measures in partnership with civil society, caring for patients without discrimination and implementing the 2006 and 2011 political declarations on HIV/AIDS. It had also prioritized the protection of those infected and halting the disease without stigma and under universal norms, such as equality and sensitivity. Noting Morocco’s low prevalence of less than 0.1 per cent, he said the majority of new cases were among the most marginalized populations. More than 150,000 people from those groups had benefited from prevention programmes that had been implemented through a community-based approach. Morocco had created a national diagnostic strategy to integrate screening into primary health centres, increasing by 10-fold those that had been tested between 2011 and 2015. There was also a national strategy to provide free access to care and treatment.
MOHAMMAD NURUL ALAM, Permanent Observer of Partners in Population and Development, said HIV and AIDS remained a global emergency and a serious threat to development, progress and stability around the world. Their spread was often the cause and consequence of poverty and inequality. Official development assistance (ODA) would remain crucial, he said, underscoring the importance of enhanced international cooperation, particularly South-South efforts, to support the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Such cooperation fostered a spirit of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South and that notion needed to be optimally harnessed, he said, adding that such an approach was a complement — not a substitute — to North-South cooperation.
Compiled by the PPD Permanent Observer at UN