Prime Minister Hon. Kassim Majaliwa was the guest of honor at an event on Thursday commemorating 20 years of success in the fight against HIV/AIDS made possible by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.
In Tanzania, PEPFAR has helped reduce AIDS-related deaths by almost 80% since 2003 and new infections by almost 60%. When the program began, less than 1000 people in Tanzania were on HIV treatment. Today, more than 1.5 million Tanzanians are receiving this life saving treatment.
Since PEPFAR’s launch in 2003 under President George W. Bush, the U.S. government has invested more than $100 billion in its fight against HIV/AIDS globally, including nearly $7 billion for Tanzania. This represents the single biggest commitment by any nation to fight a single disease in human history.
In his remarks, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Raines said the event was an opportunity to applaud the strong partnership between the United States and the government of Tanzania in the fight against AIDS.
“Today, we have the distinguished opportunity to commemorate 20 years of PEPFAR’s unrelenting commitment to mitigate the effects of HIV and the important journey that has brought us here today. Our achievements would not have been possible without the close and enduring partnership we have with the government of Tanzania.”
Additional guests at the event included the Deputy Minister of Health Hon. Godwin Mollel, the representative of the head of the National Council for People Living with HIV (NACOPHA) Agnes Nyoni, and Dr. Leonard Maboko, Executive Director of Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS). On the U.S. side, the heads of the four agencies which implement PEPFAR activities in Tanzania were also present. These include the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the Peace Corps. In total more than 300 guests from across the health sector attended the commemoration.
In order to portray the human impact of the PEPFAR program, the event featured screenings of several short films inspired by PEPFAR produced and directed by Tanzanian filmmakers.
Though the focus of the evening was on the achievements of the PEPFAR program, participants also urged the health community not to rest on its laurels.
“There is still a lot of work ahead to achieve the “final mile” of epidemic control in Tanzania. Efforts should focus on closing equity gaps that persist for adolescent girls and young women, children, and key populations.” Cautioned Jessica Greene, PEPFAR Country Director for Tanzania.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Tanzania.