President Lungu’s Speech during the Commemoration of the HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment Day

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President Edgar Lungu checking his BP during the Nation HIV testing, counseling and treatment day

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU RESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF Zambia, AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE HIV TESTING, COUNSELLING AND TREATMENT DAY OLYMPIC YOUTH DEVELOPMENT CENTRE, LUSAKA TUESDAY, 15TH AUGUST 2017

THEME: “TEST AND TREAT: TOWARDS ENDING AIDS”

Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, MP; Minister Of Health; Members of the Patriotic Front Central Committee; Your Worship the Mayor of the Greater City of Lusaka; Cabinet Ministers present; Your Excellency, Mr. Eric Shultz, American Ambassador To Zambia,; Your Excellency Ms. Janet Rogan, UN Resident Country Coordinator; Representatives From Cooperating Partners; Civil Society Organisations; Members of the Press Distinguished Guests Ladies And Gentlemen

Today is yet another important occasion in the history of our country as we gather to launch the HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment day (htct) which has replaced what was traditionally commemorated as the national voluntary counselling and testing (vct) day.

The htct day will be commemorated every year on the 15th of august as a symbol of my government’s resolve to eliminate aids in Zambia by 2030. This year’s theme is:
“Test and Treat: Towards Ending Aids”.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The HIV and aids scourge has continued to pose one of the biggest threats to our country’s development.
Since the first case of HIV was confirmed in Zambia in 1984, about 1 million Zambians have died mainly those in the productive age while 1.2 million are living with HIV.

The patriotic front government under my leadership is up to the task and has embarked on a transformative shift from emphasizing HIV voluntary counselling and testing to HIV Testing and Treatment.

This bold decision prioritises HIV testing and immediate commencement and retention on anti-retroviral treatment of all Zambians living with HIV.
Let’s not wait for people to fall sick before they can start life-saving treatment. Let’s take intergrated health services including HIV testing and treatment to the communities.

I am delighted that ministry of health is prioritising community health and I urge all stakeholders including members of the public to support this cause.

For us to make sustainable progress against HIV and aids, we need to move away from rhetoric and begin taking collective affirmative action at individual, family, community, institutional and country levels.

This is what will enable us attain an aids free Zambia and contribute significantly to a healthy and productive population we so strongly desire.

I look forward to a Zambia where all her people know their HIV status and are taking appropriate steps to protect their health and that of their families and fellow Zambians.

In our quest to fight this scourge, we should not forget those who test negative as they need to be fully supported and empowered with knowledge to remain negative.

We need to impress upon our people on the importance of repeat HIV testing and ensuring that those who test positive are not stigmatised.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

My government has domesticated the unaids global fast track strategy of reaching the majority of the population with HIV services by the year 2020.

My government has made tremendous progress in the fight against HIV as evidenced by the reduction in overall new HIV infections from 77,500 in 2010 to approximately 46,000 in 2016. This translates to 41 percent reduction in six years

Further, the new HIV infections among children dropped from 26,000 in 2010 to 4,000 in 2016.

Our anti-retroviral therapy programme has been improving with about 800,000 people currently on treatment, averting a number of deaths that would have occured without this life –saving treatment.

Whereas, we have reached 80 percent of adults in need of anti- retroviral therapy, we have only covered 50 percent of our children.

This is unacceptable and I wish to implore all stakeholders to prioritise our children and ensure that we adopt the know your child HIV status campaign so that we reverse this trend.

Our young people of less than 35 years of age predominantly make up 85 percent of Zambia’s population. However, our potential to reap the socio-economic benefits from this demographic dividend is grossly undermined by the increasing HIV infection rates among young people.

This is attributed mainly due to the low uptake of HIV preventive interventions including testing services, and poor adherence to treatment.

Further, alcohol and substance abuse, other high HIV risk behaviours, coupled with peer influence are some of the contributing factors.

I therefore call upon all our traditional, political, civic leaders and other influential persons in various sectors of our society to take bold steps to safeguard the lives of our children and the young people.

We need to proactively and collectively implement evidence based high impact interventions aimed at averting new infections and deaths of our young people who also should be part of the solution and not passive partcipants.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

According to the Zambia demographic health survey of 2014, only 67 percent of the Zambian population knew their HIV status and HIV testing rates for men remain lower than those for women. There is need to urgently find innovative ways of enhancing HIV testing.
The patriotic front government has adopted the HIV self-testing and I call upon the ministry of health to spearhead massive sensitisation campaigns on this initiative coupled with distribution of the HIV self-test kits.

Let me also take this opportunity to urge all Zambians to embrace HIV self testing as this will enable us reach the underserved members of our society.

I also expect all government and non-governmental institutions to immediatetly put in place robust wellness programmes to address not only HIV, but also other emerging health issues using an integrated approach.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is disheartening that we still receive reports of people living with HIV or affected by the virus being stigmatised or indeed discriminated against.

We need to coherently and collectively take practical steps to eliminate this vice and facilitate universal access to HIV testing, prevention, treatment, care and support services.

As I conclude, let me call upon all line ministries, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organisations, developmental partners, leadership at all levels, media houses and indeed members of the general public to ensure that no one is left behind in our HIV response programme.

To our development partners and stakeholders thank you for your generous material and financial support towards the HIV response in Zambia. Together we can end aids by the year 2030.

Thank you and god bless!

8 COMMENTS

  1. He is a useless coward of leader this Lazy Lungu, can not walk the walk…do the HIV test there and show everyone results!!

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  2. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies are raking in trillions of dollars from useless Drug sales. Let’s put monies aside and carry out our own research and finally find a cure to this killer virus.

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