Remarks by U.S. Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator Mamadi Yilla at the Launch of the Southern Province Surge

Remarks by U.S. Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator Mamadi Yilla
Launch of the Southern Province Surge
Livingstone Central Hospital, Southern Province, Zambia
September 12, 2018

Director of Ceremonies
Honorable Dr. Edify Hamukale, Minister of Southern Province
Ladies and Gentlemen
All other protocols observed

Good morning / Muli buti.

I am delighted to be here this morning to witness the launch of the Southern Province Surge, an initiative of the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the U.S. government through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, more commonly known as PEPFAR.  The aim of the “Surge” is to energize and focus efforts towards the common goal of achieving HIV epidemic control by 2020.  This marks the third “Surge” campaign in Zambia, with similar surges in Lusaka and Copperbelt.  The growing momentum is encouraging, and provides a strong foundation for the country to achieve its goal.

I would like to commend the Zambian government and the Ministry of Health for embracing the surge campaign.  Together, we aim to identify 90 percent of people living with HIV in the province.  From that group, we would like to get 90 percent on life-saving antiretroviral therapy, and get the HIV virus fully controlled in 90 percent of those who are on treatment.  According to UNAIDS, reaching these 90-90-90 targets will allow us finally to control the HIV epidemic in the province and ultimately in Zambia.  Science now shows that people who are on treatment and are virally suppressed cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners or children and are able to have normal life expectancy, especially if they are diagnosed and put on treatment before the virus destroys their immune system.

The U.S. government, through PEPFAR, remains a strong supporter of Zambia’s fight against HIV.  This includes contributing more than $3.5 billion over the last 15 years towards Zambia’s national program.  In partnership with the Zambian government, PEPFAR funding has helped save the lives of well over 1 million Zambians, has prevented new HIV infections for hundreds of thousands more, and strengthened health systems so that Zambians can receive quality health services. As PEPFAR reflects on 15 years of TB and HIV programming in the world and in Zambia, we can now look back and appreciate how the impossible has become possible. This is worth celebration.

In the midst of celebration, however, we must also be cognizant of the work that remains.  Here in Southern Province, over 30 percent of those who are HIV positive, or about 50,000 people living with HIV, are not accessing life-saving treatment.  The “Surge” campaign will focus on the five districts—Livingstone, Mazabuka, Choma, Monze and Kazangula—that have the highest unmet HIV treatment need, with the aim of rapidly closing this gap.

In closing, I wish to thank the Provincial Minister, the Ministry of Health, including its provincial leadership, for their partnership in this exciting new “Surge” campaign.   I would also like to thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who will lead this initiative on behalf of the U.S. government.

This is truly an exciting day, and I look forward to seeing the impact of this important work.

Thank you.