Swaziland and America Building on Success in Fighting AIDS; Earl M. Irving, U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland; Op-Ed in The Times of Swaziland; Swaziland

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 is in their honor that we work each and every day to provide HIV prevention, treatment and care across the globe.

Yes, it is also a day to celebrate those whose lives have been improved and saved in Swaziland 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 ultimately save more lives.

And there is much success to build on. In Swaziland, the United States, through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), works closely with the Ministry of Health, NERCHA, the Global Fund and many non-governmental organizations to strengthen the national response to HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the commitment of these organizations, aided by technical and financial support from PEPFAR, Swaziland has made outstanding progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The national figures tell the story of that progress. More than 51,000 men, women and children are now on anti-retroviral therapy. More than 155,000 people have been reached with HIV counseling and testing services in the past year. More than 25,000 pregnant women have been provided with health services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the past year.

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.

Working with Swaziland, we are also becoming smarter about how we're making investments in the goal of saving more lives. Experience in Swaziland and elsewhere has taught us how to use every lilangeni invested in battling HIV/AIDS more effectively and efficiently. This means every lilangeni is going a little further, allowing us to do more to combat HIV/AIDS, and address issues across the global health spectrum. It also means that we can now measure our success not just in emalangeni invested, but in the ultimate measure of success - lives improved and saved.

We are using our money wisely for greater impact. For example, the PEPFAR program in Swaziland has provided resources, both technical and financial, to facilitate decentralization of the delivery of care and treatment services. Improved systems to mobilize populations to access services in more remote areas of the country, improved laboratory and information systems, supply chain systems, and clinical mentoring and supervisory support systems all create a more efficient and cost effective means to deliver high quality services that benefit not just the HIV-infected but all patients in need of acute and chronic care.

On this World AIDS Day, we honor 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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