Asmara – as a day to renew the commitments of all stakeholders working to end the AIDS epidemic, Eritrea commemorated the World AIDS Day on December 1, 2012 at Expo Ground under a theme of ‘Getting to Zero’. The event which was attended mostly by students has shown the strong commitment of the young generation in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
During the commemoration event, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator Ms Christine N. Umutoni read the UN Secretary General’s message which reveals the significant progress in preventing the spread of HIV. The message calls on Governments and Countries to work together to build on and amplify the encouraging successes of recent years to make the epidemic a history.
The UN SG’s message highlights the MDG targets for HIV/AIDS emphasizing to halt and begin to reverse the epidemic by 2015 and as the result of determined efforts of governments and civil society, success is in sight, says the message.
UNAIDS global report on HIV/AIDS indicates that in the past two years the number of people accessing life-saving treatment rose by 60 per cent and new infections have fallen by half in 25 countries – 13 of them in sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS-related deaths have also dropped by a quarter since 2005.
Further to the UN Secretary General’s message, the Resident Coordinator remarks emphasized on the Day’s core values to fight the epidemic of HIV/AIDS. The RC said that every year at the same date, Member Countries of the United Nations and civil society organizations mark the World Aids Day. While we fight against HIV/AIDS on daily basis, the UN General Assembly has made this Day to further reinforce the commitment and reflect on the progress that countries have made. “This year, we are marking the World Aids Day in the aftermath of global economic slowdown. The slowdown has made employment generation more difficult posing a threat on fight against epidemic. However, despite the global economic slowdown, the Global report on MDGs indicates that the progress achieved to halt and reverse the epidemic of HIV/AIDS by 2015 is in sight five years ahead of the 2015 deadline” said the Resident Coordinator.
The RC further cited the global, reports which revealed the significant progress in the prevention and access to treatment on HIV/AIDS in the past two years. The number of people accessing life-saving treatment rose by 60% and new infections have fallen by half in 25 countries – 13 of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Representing the Ministry of Health Dr. Andebrhan Tesfazion, Director General of Public Health, said that Eritrea has been observing the World AIDS Day for the last 19 years and the objective of marking the Day was to join hands on the fight against HIV/AIDS, to renew Eritrea’s determination and unite with passion and positive energy to take action in preventing infections and saving lives. “These efforts are making a real and tangible difference around the world in general and our country in particular” stated the Director General.
Official reports indicate that since Eritrea adopted and introduced the national response of the first strategic plan in 1997, the HIV/AIDS surveillance system provides clear picture showing a steady decline on the prevalence of the pandemic. According to Dr. Andebrahn Tesfazion-the official reports demonstrates that “in five sentinel sero-prevalence surveys conducted among pregnant women attending ANC services since 2003 have shown a decrease from 2.47 % in 2003 to 0.89% in 2011.
Representing USAIDS, Mr. Stephen Lukudu, Head of Office for UNOCHA, reads the message of the UNAIDS Executive director, Mr. Michel Sidibé. The message emphasizes on the positive trends that world community is looking for. “To the millions who have come together with compassion and determination on this World AIDS Day, we say: “Your blood, sweat and tears are changing the world. We have moved from despair to hope. Far fewer people are dying from AIDS. 25 countries have reduced new infections by more than 50%. I want these results in every country” said the message of UNAIDS as read by OCHA Head of Office in Eritrea.
To demonstrate the real situation of the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the country, a presentation was made by Dr. Araia Berhane, Director of CDCD. In addition, a cultural group from the Ministry of Education performed entertaining and educating musical and drama shows.