Remarks for National Technical Review

Remarks for National Technical Review

Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Mahoney

Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 9:00 a.m.

Imperial Royal Hotel, Kampala, Uganda

Honorable Minister of Health;

Ministry leadership;

Leadership of the Uganda AIDS Commission;

Representatives of Makerere University;

District Health Officers;

Our friends from the World Health Organization and UNAIDS;

Chiefs of Party from our Implementing Partners;

All protocols observed.

It is an honor to address all of you today as we open this National Technical Review of Uganda’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  I want to thank the Ministry of Health’s STD/AIDS Control Program for organizing this important meeting.

Over the next four days, we will have the rare opportunity to take stock together of our shared fight against the HIV epidemic.  This week will allow us to reassess our partnership, at both the national and district levels, to see how we can achieve maximum impact on the epidemic.

This enhanced focus on epidemic control mirrors the redefined approach of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (or PEPFAR) outlined in its report “PEPFAR 3.0—Controlling the Epidemic: Delivering on the Promise of an AIDS-free Generation,” which documents PEPFAR’s progress and explains how we are shifting the way we do business.  PEPFAR now will focus on five action agendas—Impact, Efficiency, Sustainability, Human Rights, and Partnership—while strengthening existing partnerships with other countries, UNAIDS, WHO, and Global Fund.

Through its Impact Agenda, PEPFAR is implementing a data-driven approach that focuses on geographic areas and populations to make sure we are doing the right things, in the right places, at the right time.  This Impact Agenda also ensures that we focus on populations at greatest risk for AIDS or infection with HIV—children, adolescent girls and young women—to strengthen resilience and increase access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care.

Through the Efficiency Agenda, PEPFAR is continuing to make data more and more accessible and usable.

PEPFAR’s Sustainability Agenda focuses on improving human resources for health and ensuring the necessary training, services, systems, financing, and policies to achieve and sustain epidemic control.

In all activities, PEPFAR is committed to eliminating barriers to HIV services for all people through its Human Rights Agenda.  Stigma and discrimination, along with hostile policies, can threaten this goal.  PEPFAR is committed to ensuring that all people have access to care.

And, as always, partnership remains the cornerstone of PEPFAR’s work. Ending the HIV epidemic is a shared responsibility that no one can achieve alone.  PEPFAR’s Partnership Agenda reinvigorates our work with partner countries, civil society, FBOs, and multilateral organizations to maximize our impact.

PEPFAR’s new strategic direction will directly support UNAIDS’ global “90, 90, 90” campaign, which calls for 90% of all people living with HIV to  know their HIV status; 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV to receive sustained treatment; and 90% of those receiving treatment to have viral suppression by 2020.  In turn, PEPFAR 3.0 and UNAIDS “90, 90, 90” align with both Uganda’s Investment Case and its new National Strategic Plan.  All of these strategies highlight epidemic control through focused interventions based on evidence and implemented with maximum efficiency.  The National Technical Review fits perfectly into this approach to shared responsibility.

As the world’s leading donor in global health, the U.S. is strongly committed to working with partners like Uganda to reach our goal of an AIDS-free generation, to end preventable child and maternal deaths, and to support countries as they provide for the health of their own citizens.  Over the last 12 years, the U.S. government, through the generosity of the American people, has invested $2.3 billion in fighting HIV here in Uganda.  And that commitment remains.

But while our commitment remains, our funding is limited and there may be funding gaps as soon as 2016.  The simple reality is that the Government of Uganda will have to increase its investment if we are to maintain the tremendous gains we have achieved in the fight against HIV and defeat the epidemic. ‎ The costs of funding the national response increase year upon year as we need more resources to put and keep Ugandans on ARTs and prevent new infections from occurring.  Absent additional funding, national policies and plans, if they are to be meaningful, should reflect the reality of these funding constraints.  The U.S. government, through PEPFAR, cannot continue to fund 80% year upon year (as we have for the last 6 years) of a national HIV response that just keeps getting more expensive.  That we can’t do.  What we can do is continue to work with you to address these challenges and ensure that the resources available are used most effectively.

What does that mean?  PEPFAR resources will be focused on activities and districts where we can have the greatest impact.  Our efforts will support key components of the NSP – but we don’t have the resources to support all of it.  This means that some needs will go unfilled if you can’t find other funding; we can’t and won’t be everywhere.

How can you help?  What can you do?  Well, you’re going to need to think of creative, innovative approaches to keep making gains in the fight against HIV.  Each district will need a strategy, based on financial reality, to address its own unique HIV epidemic.  This National Technical Review is just what we need because it will help us assess current efforts and look for ways to improve them, accelerate the response, and attain epidemic control.

And before I close, I want to extend a special thanks to Uganda’s district and frontline health workers—many of whom are here with us—for they are the backbone of our HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs and the human face of PEPFAR.  Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

I wish you all the best in your deliberations this week.  The work you do is important and urgently needed.  Let’s make the most of this unique opportunity to work side-by-side to make great work even better.  Thank you.