President Lungu’s 2017 world aids day Speech

World AIDS Day

Monday, 11th december 2017

Theme: “ending aids by 2030 starts with me!”

• hon. Minister of health – dr. Chitalu chilufya, mp;
• hon. Minister of lusaka – mr japhen mwakalombe, mp;
• members of the patriotic front central committee;
• cabinet ministers present;
• your worship the mayor of the greater city of lusaka;
• your excellency, the american ambassador to zambia;
• the un resident country coordinator;
• other members of the diplomatic corp;
• our cooperating partners;
• civil society organisations;
• distinguished guests;
• members of the press;
• ladies and gentlemen:

i am delighted to join hands with everyone gathered here today and several others around our great country in commemorating the 2017 world aids day under the global theme “right to health” and a country level theme of “ending aids by 2030 starts with me!” our theme reminds us that the only way to ending aids by 2030 will require commitment at individual level.

This event reinforces the greater need for us as a country to address the hiv and aids epidemic as zambia’s number one public health threat.

The commemoration of world aids day this year is conciding with the launch of lusaka anti-retroviral therapy (art) surge campaign dubbed “tiyende pamodzi.” this campaign is aimed at achieving hiv epidemic control within one year in lusaka, which currently carries 25 percent of the national hiv burden.

Since the first case of hiv was confirmed in zambia in the early 80s, the government with the support of co-operating partners has mounted a vigorous response to eliminate hiv and aids.

We have continued to witness a decline in new infections due to concerted efforts by various stakeholders. This shows that our efforts to fight this epidemic are not in vain. However, there is still work to be done.

Ladies and gentlemen:

by the end of 2016, it was estimated that there were approximately 1.2 million zambians living with hiv and aids. However, zambia has remained steadfast in efforts aimed at hiv prevention, treatment, care and support.

We are implementing a combination of high impact interventions which have contributed to the decline in new hiv infections by 41 percent from 77,500 in 2010 to 46,000 in 2016.

In addition, about 900,000 people are currently on our anti-retroviral therapy programme averting a number of deaths.

Over 80 percent of adults in need of anti- retroviral therapy have been reached since this programme began in zambia. Unfortunately our children have been left behind.

The successes we have so far scored in response to hiv, gives us hope that we can end aids as a public health problem by 2030.

Ladies and gentlemen:

it is saddening to note that despite all these efforts, we have only reached half of our young people. I therefore, direct the ministry of health and all stakeholders to put our children first and promote the “know your child’s hiv status” campaign.

As we all know 85 percent of zambia’s population is comprise predominantly young people of less than 35 years of age.

I am deeply concerned that the number of new hiv infections among the adolescents and youths between 15 and 35 years especially young girls and women is rising. This reduces our potential to tap into this productive age group socially and economically.

The rising hiv infections in this age group are attributed to low uptake of hiv preventive interventions. These include testing services, poor adherence to treatment, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as other high hiv risk behaviours coupled with peer influence.

Distinguished guests
ladies and gentlemen:
i therefore call upon all our traditional, political, civic leaders and every concerned citizen to take bold steps such as ending child marriages in our communities to safeguard the lives of our children and young people.

We need to employ effective interventions which will avert new infections and deaths. We should always remember to include young people in various interventions in our quest for solutions.

While much remains to be done in mitigating the impact of hiv and aids, i am confident that the ministry of health and its partners will come up with smart investments in our health systems.

Ladies and gentlemen:

let me take this opportunity to note that the routine hiv testing and treatment services to all members of the public currently being offered in health centres is yielding positive results.

Our health management information systems (hmis) data shows that the proportion of people living with hiv, who know their status, has increased from below 70 percent to 74 percent in three months.

My government’s focus is to reposition prevention as the main drive of the national multi-sectoral hiv and aids response.

Greater emphasis should be placed on scaling-up hiv prevention services which enable individuals to maintain their hiv negative status, as well as, improve access to quality treatment and care services.

Ladies and gentlemen:

in this regard, zambia joined the global hiv prevention coalition comprising 24 countries with a high burden of the epidemic. The global prevention was launched in october 2017 in geneva and is aimed at accelerating hiv prevention and to reduce new infections by 75 percent, by the year 2020.

In line with this global hiv prevention coalition, as government we have committed to establish a national prevention coalition.

I am pleased to announce that the national prevention coalition will be formed under the patronage of the first lady, mrs esther lungu and co-chaired by ministers responsible for health and finance while an appointed member of the clergy will be the vice- chairperson.

This coalition will draw membership from the traditional leadership, private sector, civil society and cooperating partners.

Ladies and gentlemen:

i am glad to inform you that my government has also fast tracked efforts to reach “hiv treatment saturation” to achieve hiv epidemic control by 2020 or earlier.

Further, the ministry of health working with its partners has established the first intensive urban hiv test and treat surge in africa.

It is now my honour to officially launch the 2018 lusaka antiretroviral therapy surge campaign in collaboration with the united states government through the u.S. President’s emergency plan for aids relief (pepfar). With this campaign, our plan is to control the epidemic in lusaka province by december 2018.

My passionate appeal to all zambians is to support this campaign by getting tested now, and if negative lead a responsible life, and if positive, start antiretroviral therapy immediately!

Distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen:

as i conclude let me sincerely thank our cooperating partners and stakeholders in this fight for your generous support to zambia. Together we can end aids by the year 2030.

Thank you and god bless!