Remarks by U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Larry André at the Inauguration of the Mlandizi HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Centers
Venue: Mlandizi Health Center, Kibaha District - Friday, February 6, 2009
I am honored to join you all here this morning for the official opening of the new Mlandizi Health Center HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Centers. I am grateful to the residents of Pwani and to the Regional Commissioner, the District Commissioner and their teams for inviting me to join you here today to launch this facility for the 40,000 residents of the Kibaha District Council.
These clinics came about through the partnership between the people of America and Tanzania. The clinics are funded by PEPFAR, the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is the largest international health commitment ever made by any nation to fight a single disease. Over the past five years, the American people have provided over $817 million--that's about 1 trillion T-shillings--to Tanzania to combat HIV/AIDS. This year, we expect to provide an additional $300 million to this effort.
During remarks made in honor of 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day in December, then-President-elect Obama promised to continue PEPFAR's historical commitments to fighting AIDS worldwide, stating, “I salute President Bush for his leadership in crafting a plan for AIDS relief in Africa and backing it up with funding dedicated to saving lives and preventing the spread of the disease. And my administration will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world.”
Success, however, is not measured in terms of dollars spent. Rather, success is measured in terms of the more than 4 million Tanzanians who have received voluntary testing and counseling, the more than 1 million Tanzanians who have received care and treatment, and the several million who have received, understood, and applied prevention messages.
Working in close partnership and under the policy guidance of our Tanzanian colleagues in the Ministry of Health, led by the Honorable David Mwakyusa, last year, we provided care and treatment services to nearly 650,000 people and antiretroviral treatment for nearly 150,000 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. With the support of the American people for programs to prevent mothers from passing the virus on to their children, we have provided counseling and testing for about 750,000 pregnant women and prophylaxis of antiretroviral drugs to nearly 35,000 HIV+ pregnant women to make sure their babies are born free of HIV.
These Care and Treatment clinics will provide greater access to treatment services for families and individuals in need. I say to Salem Construction, who carried out the work in a professional and timely way, Hongera! You did a great job! Also, the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs from Columbia University has worked in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to ensure that high quality HIV/AIDS prevention and care and treatment programs are taking place. Through ICAP, with funding from the American people, Pwani has nearly 80 Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) locations available and about twenty Care and Treatment Centers providing much needed services to several thousand Tanzanians.
This new Care and Treatment Centre will allow the staff of Mlandizi Health Centre to provide services in a clean, safe and pleasant environment. This facility will increase greatly the number of those that can be seen each day. In addition to providing Anti-Retroviral Treatment services, this facility also provides adherence and psychosocial support activities, HIV Counseling and testing, services to prevent HIV infection to babies among pregnant women; early testing services for infants and children, laboratory services and care for clients at home. Furthermore, Mlandizi has created a ‘family friendly’ location for children and their parents, by equipping the center with educational materials and toys. And these services are available every single day. In fact, that’s another highlight to celebrate--these centers will help families receive a wide range of services. While PEPFAR is aimed at one disease – HIV/AIDS – the services these centers provide help Tanzanians and the national health care system in many ways.
We need all of you to take the opportunity to, free of charge, learn your HIV status and sensitize your friends and family to do the same. His Excellency President Kikwete and First Lady Mama Kikwete have led the way. In July 2007, the First Couple publicly tested for HIV/AIDS. Since then, following their example, over 4 million Tanzanians have been tested.
It is only through testing that you can plan for your future. If you are found to be HIV positive, enroll yourself at the Care and Treatment clinics at Mlandizi Health Center. If you are HIV negative, learn about the ways that you can stay that way and support those around you to do the same.
You can take control of your own future . . . and know that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you do.
On behalf of the American people, I again thank you for your tireless commitment to improving the health of this country. We will continue to work steadfast with you and the entire Tanzanian nation to fulfill President Kikwete’s vision of a “Tanzania without AIDS." We believe it is possible.
TANZANIA BILA UKIMWI INAWEZEKANA.