Statements and Webcast
H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President
8 June 2011
- Statement: English (Check against delivery)
PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said the HIV and AIDS epidemic had reversed health and development gains in many countries, especially in Africa, and efforts to find a cure had come up against competing global priorities and challenges. The High-level Meeting provided an opportunity to review modest progress. “It is time to galvanize Member States to commit to a transformative agenda that overcomes the barriers to an effective, equitable and sustainable response to HIV and AIDS”, he stressed. Even in the face of economic hardship, courageous leadership continued to inspire solidarity, notably five years ago, with the pledge to achieve universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS sufferers. Developing countries had increased their response in several ways.
By way of example, he said prevention had worked and treatment had saved lives, noting that, in Africa, new infections had dropped from 2.2 million cases in 2001 to 1.8 million in 2009, while AIDS-related deaths had dropped by 25 per cent since 2005 in sub-Saharan Africa. Investing in prevention, treatment, care and support was not only the right thing, but the smart thing to do, and no single Government acting alone could overcome the pandemic. A comprehensive approach that responded to all aspects of the disease was needed, he said, noting that early diagnosis and treatment had reduced by 90 per cent the chances of infecting others.
Today, there was a better understanding of the disease, which should inform future efforts, he said, underscoring that work to be done included surmounting the resistance to some antiretroviral drugs. Stigma and gender-based disadvantages also must be eliminated and an integrated approach must be adopted. Further, conscious leadership was needed at all levels of society. Where stigma persisted, the HIV/AIDS response could not be effective. There could be no higher aspiration than to work towards a future free of AIDS. With predictable financing, shared responsibility and a comprehensive approach, he was confident that gains could be built upon for the well-being of all people.