Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at launch of Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children and Keeping their Mothers Alive

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 09 June 2011

Your Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria,
Your Excellency President Bill Clinton,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished First Ladies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you all for coming here today.

I especially thank UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé for his visionary leadership and commitment in supporting this very successful high-level meeting. I also deeply appreciate his bold call for a world free of new HIV infections, stigma and AIDS-related deaths.

We are here to launch “Countdown to Zero,” the Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive.

This is no fantasy.

Developed countries already do this.

But we cannot rest until this is true for our whole world.

If it pains us to see a baby contract HIV in the developed world, that pain is felt just as much as when a baby contracts HIV in the developing world. It's all the same – mothers and children - here and there – around the world.

American mothers, African mothers, Asian mothers, Latin American mothers – they all feel the same love for their children, as mothers everywhere. They deserve exactly the same options for treatment.

As the developed world shows, there is every reason to believe that we can save millions of lives across the developing world.

There are already many success stories.

In Zambia, a young woman named Tasila learned she was HIV positive when she went for prenatal care.

With help from UNICEF, Tasila started receiving treatment with anti-retroviral drugs. When her son was born, a midwife taught her how to give him medicine for the first week of his life. At six weeks, with her baby in her arms, Tasila learned that her son was still HIV-free. By the time her son was able to stand on his own two feet, he again tested negative.

He was too young to understand his mother's joy, but we all can appreciate it. More than that, we can spread it around the world.

And I thank Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, who is here and is leading this campaign.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tasila should not be one of the lucky few. Everybody - every mother around the world - should have that luck.

We are here today to ensure that all children are born healthy and free of disease. We are here to ensure that their mothers live to see them grow.

This is every mother's wish – and we can make it a reality.

I congratulate the Co-Chairs of the Global Task Team, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and U.S. Global AIDS Ambassador Eric Goosby, for preparing this Global Plan.

The Plan is the best way to achieve real results on HIV and AIDS in the context of our Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.

This Global Strategy was the highlight of our Millennium Development Goals Summit Meeting which we convened here in the United Nations in September last year. We mobilized $40 billion for that and we established an accountability commission to make sure that all of this $40 billion is delivered to the needy people.

The President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete and President [Stephen] Harper of Canada are now working very hard as Co-Chairs of this commission to ensure that all this money is delivered [to] and spent for these people.

Tasila's story shows how, when a woman gets proper prenatal care, she can be checked for HIV.

When she is checked for HIV, she can get counselling about other aspects of her health.

And by providing women with the information and resources they need to stay healthy, we care for families. We enrich societies. And we go a long way toward achieving all of our Millennium Development Goals.

That integrated approach is central to this new Plan.

It is essential for success.

Governments and foundations that support this Plan are saying: we treasure all life equally. We give all people the best possible chance. We provide health care to all who need it.

I commend our partners, and I call on others to join.

This week we have focused on our goal of zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths.

I have been working very hard to tear down all the political, legal and social walls which have been set up for those people living with HIV/AIDS. I have committed myself to tearing [them] down. I have seen President Obama's courageous decision to tear down these restrictions. Then everybody is free to come to the United States. And I have spoken to the Chinese leadership and spoken to my country, Korea. And there are very few countries that are imposing restrictions for entry for those people [going] to their own countries. And I will continue.

Let us make this world free of fear, free of isolation and discrimination and stigma.

Let us not forget that some regions have nearly achieved no new infections from mother to child. If we push hard, as we have committed today, with your continued help [and] with the will to do what is right for the world, we can spread this success to mothers everywhere.

Thank you very much.