Malawi has received a standing ovation from the United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAIDS) for demonstrating high political will in the prevention and management of HIV and Aids, as the country accelerates towards the global target of ending the epidemic by 2030.
UNAIDS, through its 95:95:95 global targets, tasks governments and states to end the Aids epidemic by 2030 by achieving 95 percent diagnosed among all people living with HIV (PLHIV), 95 percent on antiretroviral therapy (ART) among diagnosed, and 95 percent virally suppressed (VS) among treated.
UNAIDS Country Director Nuha Ceesay observed that Malawi continues to outshine many countries across the globe in both the prevention and management of the epidemic.
Ceesay made the sentiments at the opening of the 2021 joint annual review of the National Response to HIV and Aids in Lilongwe on Tuesday.
The review meeting was held under the theme: “Towards Ending Aids by 2030 through sustainable epidemic control – A People-Centred Approach.”
Ceesay stated that Malawi has made “this remarkable progress because of high political will, leadership, our collective efforts to reach many vulnerable and populations left behind, the voices of the people living with HIV and Aids and key and vulnerable populations who kept on constantly reminding us that one new infection and one Aids-related death are just not acceptable.”
However, the UNAIDS Country Director warned against complacency, stressing that HIV and Aids is still an unfinished business, and that the gains made thus far are fragile.
Ceesay said while rejoicing and celebrating such “laudable results, new HIV and Aids-related deaths are not within our agreed targets.”
“There are still pockets of people, communities and populations left behind. Our collective strives for ending Aids call for maximizing investments by ensuring efficiency in service delivery, avoiding duplication, enhancing coordination and partnership, and building resilient and sustainable health and community systems to reach the populations and locations left behind,” he emphasized.
Ceesay expressed delight that Malawi has anticipated the need to address the highlighted issues and constantly convene partners annually to discuss their collective efforts in the HIV response.
Chairperson of the HIV and Aids Donor Group, Rudolf Schwenk, commended the Ministry of Health and Population, National Aids Commission (NAC) and the Department of HIV and Viral Hepatitis for the progress and achievements recorded in the HIV response.
Schwenk, who is also UNICEF Country Director, said it was even pleasing to note that even during the difficult time of Covid-19 waves, the Malawi Government sustained essential HIV services through pertinent service delivery adaptations, rollout of implementation guidelines and integration of innovative approaches.
“The Donor Group applauds the Ministry of Health on notable milestones across HIV prevention, care and treatment that have resulted in a dramatic decline in annual HIV infections from 120, 000 in 1995 to 19, 000 in 2020. Malawi remains one of the front runners towards achievement of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and ensuring our children and adolescents remain HIV free,” he said.
In her remarks, the Minister of Health and Population, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, said HIV and AIDS epidemic has had very disastrous effects on Malawians.
Chiponda disclosed that cumulatively, Malawi has 1.4 million lives since the onset of the epidemic in the 1980s.
“Most of these people were of the productive age and bread winners, hence affecting both the country’s economic productivity and family welfare,” she said.
The minister hailed President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera for his unflinching commitment to the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the country.
Chiponda assured the participants that Chakwera’s continued commitment to this fight will make the National Response meet its goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :