IT is not possible to win the fight against HIV/AIDS unless some fundamental factors, including intensifying behavioral change campaign and immediate measures to end poverty are embarked on.
As Tanzania joins the rest of the World to mark the 68th UN week, there are a number of things which the country needs to focus on, in order to achieve some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Mr Patrick Brenny, in an interview with staff reporter CHRISTOPHER MAJALIWA highlighted the meaning and importance of the week, UN efforts in making Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) feasible, challenges and many more regarding to UN week. Follow the excerpt... .
QUESTION: Why does the world celebrate the UN week?
ANSWER: The world at large marks this week, which is the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations 68 years ago. Tanzania in particular celebrates the week with a specific objective of highlighting the strong partnership between the UN and the government of Tanzania as we enhance the principles of UN Reform and Delivering as One.
This is, for example, evidenced by our joint implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP) 2011-2015 and the manner in which it addresses development challenges in Tanzania.
The week also serves: to raise awareness on the 'Unfinished Business' with respect to our commitments to the MDGs; to underline the ongoing national reflections on the Post-2015 agenda; and to emphasize the role of Youth in the future of the nation's development.
Q: What is Tanzania's theme for this year's UN week and what is the reason for adopting the theme?
A: Tanzania's chosen theme for this year's UN week is 'The Future We Want'. The UN has been encouraging an unprecedented 'global conversation' on the type of world that people - particularly young people - want through public consultations and surveys.
The global conversation engaged over 1.3 million people in more than 193 UN Member States since August 2012. Tanzania is one of the first 50 pilots to conduct National Consultations on the Post- 2015 agenda. As part of the consultation, Tanzanian youth groups have actively participated in the consultation process.
In part to recognize and underline their efforts and enthusiasm the theme for UN Week focused in particular on young people and "The Future We Want". Following the global conversation, the UN Secretary General in September 2013 released a report 'A Million Voices: The World We Want'.
The report launched captures the voices of over one million people from all regions and backgrounds - particularly those people that are poor, excluded or marginalized. This was an effort to identify priorities for the post-2015 development agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The report reveals that education, health care, honest and responsive government, and jobs are the top priorities for people worldwide -- and that is the 'Future We Want'.
Q: As a UNAIDS representative in the country, are you satisfied with the pace at which Tanzania fight against HIV/AIDS?
A: Tanzania has to date registered some important and globally recognized achievements in addressing the challenges posed to the country by HIV infection. However, further intensive efforts are still needed if Tanzania is to reach its goal of the "Three Zeros": "Zero new HIV infections, Zero AIDS-related deaths, and Zero stigma and discrimination".
Q: Do you think it is possible to have an "AIDS-free generation?
A: It is very possible to envisage the day when Tanzania can reach the goal of an "AIDS-free" generation. In order to reach this goal, however, each and every Tanzanian will have to do their part to contribute to this effort.
The estimated 86,000 new HIV infections happening annually in Tanzania have to be overcome. This can, in part, be achieved through more intensive HIV prevention and behavioural change interventions, as well as improved access to care, treatment and support services for everyone who needs them.
But we must also focus our attention on broader issues related to improved education (particularly for young girls), poverty reduction to reduce risks of and vulnerabilities to HIV infection, and fundamental gender inequalities - all of which contribute in different ways to new HIV infections in the country.
If this can be done, and Tanzanian society mobilized so that everyone plays their role as part of the collective effort, Tanzania will be well on the road to reaching your goals of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination.
Q: We are almost approaching 2015 and a number of the MDGs may not be achieved in different countries. Do you think we had set clear strategies for their realization?
A: With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals looming in just under 1000 days' time, the UN has called on countries to accelerate action to meet the global targets, and we have seen solid success in many countries across all MDGs.
Many nations have achieved what could have been considered a dream in 2000 - cutting in half the number of people living in extreme poverty, eliminating gender disparities in school, expanding access to safe drinking water, and improving living conditions for slum dwellers.
However, global progress on health, sanitation, and primary school completion continues to be at risk due to multiple challenges. Work still remains to be completed in a number of countries. This challenge is larger than the capabilities of any single institution.
It goes beyond the capacities of most governments alone. Therefore productive partnerships among governments, the private sector, and civil society are needed to accelerate progress if we are to achieve that "future we want".
Q: The World has already started talking over priorities for the post-2015 development agenda that will succeed the MDGs. What are the strategies so far set to ensure realization of these priorities?
A: Every plan comes with a strategy, and hopefully also with the resources needed to implement it. If we clearly understand why we have faced challenges in fully attaining our MDG goals, we are also well on the road to better understanding how to realize the post-2015 development agenda priorities.
Reasons for shortfalls in progress towards the MDGs have a multitude of possible explanations, though many of the reasons can be distilled down to inadequate or poorly functioning systems to do the required job, insufficient investment of the human, material or financial resources needed to achieve success, and poor infrastructures to support and sustain the investments made.
These are factors that necessarily need be addressed as we move towards not only the MDGs but on into the post-2015 world if we are serious about socioeconomic development. Countries such as Tanzania, which have both a real and a potential wealth of the natural, human and financial resources needed to invest in creating this "future we want", will be challenged as we move forward to invest these shared national resources in even more new and innovative ways, to ensure that not only the MDGs but also the post-2015 priorities that we were now talking about are achieved.
We will, in the words of the parable, need to ensure that many more people can and do learn to fish for themselves, which will in the long-run be a benefit to everyone. Q: Do you think UN gives due support to African countries, Tanzania in particular in the war against this lethal disease, HIV/ AIDS?
A: Yes, both the UN system as well as development partners continue to make substantial investments in the response to AIDS in Africa as well as in Tanzania, though it is important to note that more and more national governments around the world are contributing increasing proportions of the necessary resources for HIV programming from their own national budgets as, when and where possible.
This is why the current discussions here in Tanzania about the creation of a new AIDS Trust Fund are extremely important, as it is an important indicator of Tanzania's intention to continue to invest increasing national resources into the response to AIDS.
Q: How does UN support Tanzania in the drive against HIV/AIDS?
A: The UN provides technical assistance to the Government, non-state actors and media in ensuring an enabling environment for an effective national HIV/AIDS response.
The UN also builds the capacity of Civil society organizations, including communities of People Living with HIV, the private sector and facilitates the engagement of the national academic, research and training institutions to be at the forefront of the national HIV AIDS response.
The UN focuses on interventions providing prevention, treatment and care services which reach the most vulnerable groups in the country: girls and boys, young women and men, key populations (such as sex workers, persons who inject drugs, and sexual minorities), People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and most vulnerable children, while also trying to bridge the gaps between different sectors for optimal and effective HIV programming.