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An Update on PEPFAR in Côte d’Ivoire

PEPFAR

The situation in Côte d'Ivoire is extremely precarious and volatile, yet the U.S. government remains committed to supporting Côte d'Ivoire's fight against HIV/AIDS through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has a long history of working in Côte d'Ivoire and other countries in conflict. In these settings, PEPFAR partners have exhibited incredible courage and dedication, working in challenging environments to ensure HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and care services.

In the face of the current circumstances in Côte d'Ivoire, PEPFAR partners have led heroic efforts to keep life-saving programs running. I am committed to doing everything in my power to continue to support PEPFAR's vital work. My colleagues and I take this duty extremely seriously, as we recognize that the lives of people depend on our continued support for essential services.

At PEPFAR, we are working to find real solutions to the variety of challenges our partners are facing in Côte d'Ivoire. Unfortunately, with the reports of spreading violence and instability, the safety of partners and program beneficiaries is a major concern.

During this difficult period, PEPFAR has prioritized programs that provide essential services. These services include antiretroviral drug distribution, HIV/AIDS treatment services for existing patients, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs. They also include support for orphans and vulnerable children and some prevention services, such as those that ensure the safety of the blood supply and provide post-exposure prophylaxis for victims of sexual violence. To address challenges due to the closure of international banking institutions, we are working with a variety of partners to mobilize funds to keep these essential programs running.

Access to antiretroviral treatment is particularly critical because people on treatment rely on this medication to stay alive. As noted above, we are working with our partners to support Côte d'Ivoire's efforts to maintain the drug supply in-country. With the aid of the Supply Chain Management System, a PEPFAR-established partner consortium, we have been able to carefully track drug stocks. We are also working with partners like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — another key supporter of HIV programs. Earlier this month, the Global Fund approved a $2.5 million procurement of antiretroviral drugs, which will help to ensure the availability of medications.

As the next step in our emergency planning, we are supporting key activities in the national contingency plan by supporting efforts to establish two antiretroviral drug distribution sites in every health district, and pre-position additional drug stocks in these sites. We are also exploring a way for clients in Côte d'Ivoire to access antiretroviral treatment at sites just across the border in Ghana. These preparations will help us to continue to respond in the event that treatment access is compromised.

Although the situation in Côte d'Ivoire is changing daily, we will continue to work to make sure that our HIV programs serve those in need. I hope for a swift end to the violence, for the continued safety of PEPFAR beneficiaries and partners, and for peace for all the people of Côte d'Ivoire.

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