Tanzania and America Building on Success in Fighting AIDS; Alfonso E. Lenhardt, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania; Tanzania

December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day is both a day of remembrance and a day of celebration. We must all remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS. It's in their honor that we work each and every day to provide HIV prevention, treatment and care to millions across the globe.

Yet, this is also a day to celebrate those whose lives have been improved and saved in Tanzania and throughout the world, thanks to global efforts to fight this devastating disease. On this World AIDS Day, it is important to remember that we have a shared responsibility to build on the success achieved to date by making smart investments that will ultimately save more lives.

And there is much success to build on. In support of the national response and working in close collaboration with the United Republic of Tanzania, civil society, faith- and community-based organizations, the United States through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 255,000 men, women and children as of September 2010. PEPFAR assisted almost 1,000,000 people in Tanzania with care and support services, including 330,000 orphans and vulnerable children. And looking towards the health of future generations, PEPFAR's efforts helped almost 60,000 HIV-positive pregnant women access antiretroviral treatment to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission.

U.S. support continues to grow, despite difficult economic times. Building on the success of PEPFAR and other global health programs, President Barack Obama has also put forward an ambitious Global Health Initiative, which will support coordinated programs aimed at reducing lives lost from HIV/AIDS and other health challenges. And through U.S. investments in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, many more people will benefit from prevention, care and treatment.

As the largest development partner working in Tanzania on HIV and AIDS, the U.S. has contributed over USD $1.5 billion to Tanzania's fight against HIV and AIDS since the start of PEPFAR in 2003. In 2011, this figure will increase by USD $357 million, our annual planning figure. The Tanzania Partnership Framework (2009-2013) guides our work and has established clear goals for the U.S. and Tanzania to achieve. Moreover, experience here and elsewhere has taught us how to use every shilling invested in battling HIV and AIDS more effectively and efficiently. This means every shilling is going a little further, allowing us to do more to combat HIV and AIDS, and address issues across the global health spectrum. It also means that we can now measure our success not just in shillings invested, but in the ultimate measure of success - lives improved and saved.

We are using our money wisely for greater impact. By focusing on in-country systems and organizations, critical foundations for the national AIDS response are being enhanced for sustainability. More health care workers are being trained and retained; laboratory systems are being upgraded; the capacity to deliver and store needed health commodities is being expanded; and institutions and organizations, both inside and outside of government, are being capacitated to carry out this critical work.

In addition, globally, PEPFAR has overcome one of the biggest hurdles to providing HIV treatment - the cost of antiretroviral drugs. By 2008, lower-priced generic antiretroviral drugs accounted for almost 90% of the 22 million packs purchased under PEPFAR, increasing from 14.8% in 2005. This resulted in an estimated cumulative savings of $323 million. Moreover, PEPFAR has become more efficient in shipping needed medicines in a timely fashion by using water and land delivery instead of air freight, reducing costs by as much as 90%.

On this World AIDS Day, we honor the lives lost and celebrate the lives saved, but we cannot rest. Working together, we must remain dedicated to building on success by making smart investments to save even more lives.

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