Following last week’s United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS, I had the pleasure of joining Secretary Clinton on her visits to Zambia and Tanzania.
During visits to sites supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Secretary Clinton joined President Obama and Ambassador Susan Rice in reaffirming America’s unwavering commitment to saving lives around the world. Secretary Clinton pledged continued U.S. support for country leadership, stressing that nations must drive their own efforts.
In Zambia, in a show of support for the Government’s leadership in fighting AIDS, Secretary Clinton formally handed over to President Rupiah Banda a newly-built, U.S.-funded Pediatric Center of Excellence at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. The $3.7 million Center of Excellence will support survivors of child abuse and gender-based violence, and provide space for training health care providers. It will also deliver HIV prevention, care and treatment services to children and help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission — both critical PEPFAR priorities.
President Banda has called for the virtual elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission in Zambia by 2014. During her visit, Secretary Clinton announced that the United States.S. is providing an additional $15 million to Zambia to support this ambitious goal. The announcement followed a commitment last week by the U.S. and other world leaders to a global action plan that will support countries to make significant strides towards eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.
In Tanzania, I joined Secretary Clinton for a visit to the Buguruni Health Center, which is operated by the Government and supported by PEPFAR and USAID as part of the U.S. Global Health Initiative. The Health Center is a model of integrated services, offering antenatal care, family planning, pediatric care, malaria and HIV services.
At the Health Center, local actors performed a skit on gender-based violence. The actors passionately encouraged men to take a proactive role in the health of their families. While the drama was delivered in Swahili, the message did not need to be translated. Gender-based violence demands attention and action.
Only minutes after the drums stopped beating and the actors took their bows, Secretary Clinton announced a special PEPFAR initiative on gender-based violence in Tanzania and $24 million in funding over the next three years for this effort. This new initiative will leverage the PEPFAR platform to provide a comprehensive, multisectoral response to gender-based violence. It will increase the quality and availability of services for survivors of gender-based violence and build the capacity of Tanzanians, especially at the community level, to address this serious problem.
Both sites we visited are examples of the great strides the world has made in responding to HIV/AIDS pandemic, yet there is still much work to be done. The United States has been the leader in supporting our partner countries, but it is critical that all countries step up to the plate in order to save even more lives. The remarkable successes we have achieved to date — and will achieve at places like the Pediatric Center of Excellence and the Buguruni Health Center — supply powerful motivation to join us in this work.