His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Every December 1st the world pauses to commemorate World AIDS Day, paying homage to the lives lost to this disease and re-committing our efforts to put an end to this epidemic.
The UN’s World AIDS Day theme this year is “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility.” For me, this is more than just a phrase. It is what guides U.S. Government assistance programs. I am proud of our close partnership with the Mozambican Government- led by President Nyusi and the Ministry of Health- and the other health donor agencies that form the Health Partners Group. Together, we are providing robust, life-saving services to fight this disease nationwide. We especially appreciate the health workers for the risks they take to provide HIV treatment and prevention services. Your sacrifice and commitment do not go unnoticed.
In Mozambique, more than one in 10 adults and more than 200,000 children are living with HIV. Twenty years ago, the U.S. Government entered into partnership with the Government of Mozambique to combat HIV/AIDS, and then introduced the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, in 2004, in the hopes of securing an AIDS-free generation. But we are not alone. The Global Fund and the Health Partners Group also provide critical support. Together through collective partnership between the government of Mozambique and the Health Partners Group we are better coordinated and strategically aligned to provide robust life-saving treatment and prevention services.
The commitment to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment at the highest levels of the Mozambican government, the hard work and dedication of frontline healthcare providers and community organizations, and the strategic and coordinated efforts between the National AIDS Council, the Ministry of Health and international partners have made a significant difference.
Together, with the Mozambican government and our health partners, we have provided HIV treatment to more than 1.3 million Mozambicans, allowing them to live normal, productive lives. This isn’t just a number. These are young girls who can now live full, healthy lives, confident to finish school and enter the workforce. These are young men who can go on to start their own families while protecting their loved ones. And these are mothers and fathers who won’t have to worry about leaving their children alone in this world as orphans.
Together, with the Ministry of Health, we are getting this epidemic under control. In addition to treating those who already have HIV/AIDS, we are also working to prevent the spread of the disease. As part of the U.S. Government’s $330 million investment in 2020, we tested more than 6 million Mozambicans. The Health Partners Group also provided significant additional support. This is crucial because knowing your status is the best way to keep you and your family safe.
A cornerstone of the U.S. Government’s and Health Partners Group’s prevention work is directed towards supporting vulnerable groups – young women and girls, orphans, and children at risk of contracting HIV- with nearly every aspect of their lives. Through the U.S. Government’s efforts specifically, more than 400,000 orphans and vulnerable children are currently receiving support to stay in school and receive the HIV treatment they need.
Mozambicans are some of the most resilient people I know. As they face this longstanding epidemic, they are also fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic and a violent insurgency in Cabo Delgado. However, Mozambique is not alone in overcoming these challenges.
The response to the COVID crisis demanded a new level of global partnership. Years of strong cooperation in the health sector allowed for a strong response to COVID-19. The U.S. Government provided $19.7 million in testing, tracing, prevention, and treatment assistance, and donated 50 ventilators to the Ministry of Health complementing significant support from the Health Partners Group. This cooperation has helped Mozambique to achieve the impressively low COVID infection and mortality rate, standing out as one of the most resilient countries in the pandemic response.
Throughout the pandemic, we have supported uninterrupted access to HIV/AIDS services for all men, women, and children through continued treatment, testing and counseling. Notably, we are expanding healthcare access with mobile health teams to serve displaced Mozambicans in hard-to-reach districts.
While much has been achieved, there are still too many new infections each day. The U.S. Government and the Health Partners Group will continue to partner with the Mozambican Government, civil society, faith-based organizations, and the private sector to find solutions to the challenges that persist. Among them is the stigma that too many face for being HIV-positive. If we can offer understanding and encouragement to those in our communities seeking acceptance, we will be able to create the atmosphere necessary for them to seek treatment without shame.
On this World AIDS Day, we ask that you join us to remember those who have passed away, support those in your community living with HIV, and encourage those around you to get tested. The U.S. Government and the Health Partners Group is committed to continuing our partnership with the people and Government of Mozambique to usher in an AIDS-free generation.
Muito obrigado. Estamos juntos.