Zambia Health Minister Dr Joseph Kasonde has told a High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on ending HIV/AIDS that Africa is strongly committed to fight pandemic.
The High-Level meeting, convened by the President of the General Assembly His Excellency Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, adopted the Political Declaration on the fast track to accelerate the fight against HIV and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Addressing the 2016 High-Level Meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, Dr Kasonde, speaking in Zambia’s Capacity as Chair of the African Group at UN for the month of June, said the 54-Member African Group believes that “zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS deaths are attainable before 2030”.
He said the continent was convinced that Political will at the High Level, national leadership and ownership, were key in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
He said the rate of new infections has declined or stabilized in many African States, and AIDS-related deaths were declining as treatment programmes expand.
“Despite this progress, there is still much more left to be done. About 2.1 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2015, two thirds of whom were in Africa which remains the epicentre of HIV,” Dr Kasonde sad. “We note with alarm the sustained vulnerability of young people, especially young women and adolescent girls to HIV infections in Africa.”
Dr Kasonde, who is leading the Zambian delegation, said the African Group applauded the achievement of reaching 15 million people living with HIV with antiretroviral therapy before the December 2015 deadline.
“The African Group recognises that poverty and unemployment exacerbate HIV and AIDS. The Group therefore, calls for the increased resources devoted to HIV and AIDS responses, including the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Official Development Assistance (ODA) to support national strategies, financing plans and multilateral efforts aimed at combating HIV and AIDS,” Dr Kasonde said. “The African Group is concerned that until now Sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst affected region, exceptional action is required at all levels to curb the devastating effects of this epidemic.”
The Minister said the AIDS response was failing children and young people in Africa.
“AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause among adolescents globally,” said Dr. Kasonde, who is leading the Zambian delegation to the High-Level meeting.
Zambia Ambassador to UN H.E. Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota and her Swiss counterpart H.E. Lauber Jurg co-facilitated the High-Level Meeting.
UN Secretary-General H.E. Ban Ki Moon called for global efforts to end HIV/AIDS.
Mr. Lykketoft said the global community was united in its resolve to end AIDS within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals
“This meeting is laying the groundwork for future progress in creating healthier outcomes for everybody affected by HIV and building stronger societies prepared for future challenges,” said UN General Assembly head.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said the world has an opportunity to end AIDS, which had defined public health for a generation.
“The decisions made here, including the commitment to zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination, will provide the springboard for the implementation of an innovative, evidence-informed and socially just agenda that will end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,” said Mr. Sidibe.