Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Young U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief 2021 Country Operational Plan Joint Press Conference

Lusaka, Zambia
May 18, 2021

(as prepared for delivery)

Dr. Kennedy Malama, Permanent Secretary for Technical Services, Ministry of Health
U.S. and Zambian government colleagues
Members of the press
Ladies and gentlemen
All other protocols observed

Today, we are gathered to highlight the accomplishments of the U.S.-Zambia health partnership as we build even greater momentum to achieve HIV epidemic control in Zambia.  Since 2004, the U.S. government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has enjoyed a robust partnership with the Ministry of Health in responding to HIV across Zambia.  With longstanding support, the U.S. government has invested more than $4.5 billion in Zambia in this response thanks to PEPFAR.

Allow me to highlight some of the accomplishments of the U.S.-Zambia partnership:

  • More than 1.1 million Zambians are receiving lifesaving antiretroviral treatment;
  • Of those on treatment, more than 90 percent are virally suppressed, meaning they can live healthy lives and cannot spread the disease to others;
  • Over 680,000 adolescent girls and young women have received evidence-based HIV prevention services and interventions to ensure they remain HIV-free through the DREAMS program;
  • Above 2.1 million voluntary medical male circumcisions have been completed in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV; and
  • More than 80,000 Zambians are receiving HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent them from becoming HIV infected.

Now, I am pleased to announce the completion of the 2021 PEPFAR Country Operational Plan that will see my government provide Zambia with more than $400 million in additional funds to expand life-saving HIV programs that will continue to strengthen the health of Zambians.

While all of these numbers might quantify the magnitude of our support, I believe that the personal impact of PEPFAR better illustrates our commitment.  Therefore, let me tell you a story about Hope, a young woman from the Copperbelt.  You might have heard me tell this story before, but it is such a shining example of PEPFAR’s extraordinary results that I love recanting this young lady’s journey.   When Hope was 14 years old, her father died and her family thereafter became a victim of poverty.  She and her younger sister had to drop out of school. Her mother and the family were forlorn.  What would their future hold?

Hope enrolled in the DREAMS program, funded by PEPFAR.  DREAMS is a program that mentors vulnerable adolescent girls and young women.  It means Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe.  A year after joining the program, Hope’s life changed dramatically.  She found new “hope” that opened a better future for her.

Hope earned a scholarship and enrolled in a heavy machinery repair course.  In a short time, she was outperforming many of her male classmates and excited to take charge as a trailblazing young woman in a new field of opportunity.  She began to earn a good salary and provide for a successful future.  Today, the DREAMS program is transforming the lives of more than 650,000 girls and young women.  Across Zambia there are many other stories like Hope’s.  She gives us optimism about the good work we do together, the United States and Zambia, each and every day.

While we celebrate PEPFAR’s success, we must also recognize the challenges we faced this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the intense demand for better COVID-19 testing capacity, more training for healthcare workers to provide critical care, infection prevention control, and many other areas.  Towards this effort, I am pleased to announce that the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, will contribute an additional $20 million to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the people and resources.  In addition to the prior $24 million support to Zambia’s COVID-19 response, this funding will help the national HIV response remain resilient and responsive in the midst of COVID-19.

I remain confident in our strong bilateral partnership.  With 17 years behind us, we will continue to leverage resources to bolster the resilience of the health system and respond effectively to both HIV and COVID-19.  The U.S. government remains committed to improving Zambia’s health security through PEPFAR, the President’s Malaria program, and other health investments.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that achieving success in our HIV response would not be possible without the leadership, commitment, and progressive policies of the Zambian government.  As a result of our successful partnership, Zambia is closer than ever to reaching and maintaining HIV epidemic control and having an AIDS free generation.

And one last note—as Zambia prepares for the August general elections, I encourage everyone to exercise your civic duties peacefully, while staying healthy and safe.

Thank you for joining us today to help amplify the importance of building a strong and sustainable health system in Zambia that both improves and saves Zambian lives.