Liberia: New UNAIDS Country Director Pledges Continued Support to Liberia's HIV Response

Monrovia — The new UNAIDS Country Director to Liberia Madam Pepukai Chikukwa has said it's quite commendable that Liberia is recognized as one of the countries that have accelerated their HIV response especially for testing, disclosing that where the institution sees government committing to HIV/AIDS, it will continue to support its coordinating mechanisms.

Presenting her Letter of Credence on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 to Liberia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dee - Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Madam Chikukwa, a Zimbabwean national, thanked Minister Kemayah for the opportunity afforded her to present her credentials.

Assuring her commitment to work with UNAIDS' partners including the HIV/AIDS Commission, the Ministry of Health, Gender Ministry and other ministries and agencies in Liberia, Madam Chikukwa said she is here to help and support Liberia, building on the work that was done by her predecessor.

Madam Chikukwa explained that she started working in Liberia from September 2020, but because of the restrictions in travel, she came to Liberia in October, just about the same time that Minister Kemayah took officer as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

She recalled that during a previous meeting, Minister Kemayah had emphasized the need for the UN to work together.

She explained that UNAIDS is not an agency, but it is a program of the UN to coordinate HIV response in Liberia. According to her, UNAIDS works across with all the UN Agencies, adding that at the country level, it partners with the National Aids Commission and reaches out to different sectors.

Madam Chikukwa assured Minister Kemayah of UNAIDS' commitment for the HIV response, saying right now there is quite a lot of anxiety for HIV responses and other global priorities.

With Covid crisis ongoing around the world, Madam Chikukwa stated that she does not know how the world is going to look like.

According to her, countries are trying to recover from the Covid crisis, and so financially there might be some bit of hesitance and reluctance to commit to HIV.

For his part, Foreign Minister H.E. Dee - Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., on behalf of H.E. President George Manneh Weah, welcomed Madam Chikukwa to Liberia, telling her that Liberia is a land of hospitality.

He noted that when people come to Liberia, "we try to make them feel home away from home," as he congratulated the UNAIDS official for her appointment to serve in Liberia.

"And I want to assure you of our support to the success of your tour of duty," he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Kemayah told Madam Chikukwa that the Liberian government is interested in seeing UNAIDS and other agencies at the community level, specifically stressing the need for community - based approach.

"We think you are here not because of the government; you are here because of the people and the people form not just an integral part of the vision and flagship national agenda of His Excellency, the President. The people are at the core, you know, of such vision and agenda," he said.

More importantly, Minister Kemayah talked about people of vulnerability, saying it is a necessary imperative to give such people a greater sense of belongingness to society.

He suggested that there is no better way you can do that than getting your presence felt.

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