9 December 2011

Mozambique: U.S. Wants 'Generation Free From HIV/Aids'

Photo: Eskinder Debebe/UN
In the province of Gaza in Southern Mozambique, it has the highest HIV rate in the country of 19.4%. The Day Care Clinic of Zai-Zai opened its doors on 26 November 2002 and provides services to those seeking to improve quality of life of parents and children living with HIV/AIDS

Maputo — The United States Global AIDS Coordinator, Eric Goosby, said today in Maputo, that his government wants to create a generation free from HIV/AIDS in Mozambique and the rest of the world.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday marking the end of his three day visit, Goosby said that an AIDS-free nation is a commitment made by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and is the main reason for his visit to Mozambique.

In practice, the US plans to have its primary focus on elimination of the transmission of the virus from HIV-positive pregnant women to their children, on increased access of HIV patients to antiretroviral treatment and on promoting male circumcision.

Goosby acknowledged that Mozambique has significantly reduced the number of new HIV infections, thanks to the success of prevention programmes including condom distribution, and general awareness of people about risks associated with unprotected sex.

"It's halfway there", he added. "If greater efforts are made in educating people about HIV, if we ensure that all people tested know their HIV status, so that if they are positive we can treat them and avoid the spread of the virus, then Mozambique will have the opportunity to stop this epidemic, which few other countries have managed to do."

The US is the major donor for HIV/AIDS programs in Mozambique. Its annual contribution is 260 million US dollars, disbursed through the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Since the beginning of this initiative in 2004, around 1.3 billion US dollars have already been channeled to Mozambique.

However, Goosby said the US will be happy when Mozambique increases the slice of the budget allocated to health. The US proposal is that the government should dedicate 15 percent of its annual budget to health, as indicated in the Abuja Declaration of 2001.

"We will be pleased when the Mozambican government decides to raise its budget for health and health care systems, which now stands at just eight per cent", he said.

However, Goosby also said that his government does not plan to cut support to Mozambique. "We are committed to the Mozambican people. We have been working here for seven years, treating 200,000 people with antiretroviral drugs. We will continue to give support to these people", he said.

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