EGPAF Celebrates World AIDS Day in Malawi
Children’s voices singing “We are the World” filled the streets outside the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe on Monday afternoon in commemoration of World AIDS Day. The celebration, organized by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) office in Malawi, included remarks from the U.S. Ambassador to Malawi and the Director of the HIV and AIDS Department at the Ministry of Health.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) was one of seven organizations invited by the U.S. government to showcase their work to the public, donor community, civil society groups and government representatives in attendance at the event. EGPAF recently commenced its second year of a five-year project funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR that seeks to strengthen district-level capacity and systems to ensure the provision of high quality service delivery in Malawi.
In tune with this year’s theme for World AIDS Day, “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation,” Jeanine Jackson, U.S. ambassador to Malawi,emphasized the importance of collective efforts to end the pandemic. “We commit as individuals and institutions to the realization of an AIDS-free generation,” she said.
She announced that PEPFAR Malawi will receive up to $75 million to implement programs in 2013-14. This is the fourth year in a row that Malawi has received an increase in funding, which Ambassador Jackson attributed to the successful outcomes of Malawi’s HIV programs. She explained the concept of a “tipping point” in HIV programming: when the number of new infections is less than the number of patients on treatment. Malawi is one of 13 countries who have reached this tipping point, a critical milestone.
Dr. Frank Chimbwandira, Director of the HIV and AIDS Department at the Ministry of Health echoed Ambassador Jackson’s sentiments about the importance of working together in preventing and treating HIV, explaining that the partnership framework informed Malawi’s HIV/AIDS strategic plan. “Don’t get tired,” he urged everyone, “the journey is still going.”
With support from PEPFAR, 1 million babies have been born HIV-free worldwide. Thanks to EGPAF’s support, nearly one-quarter of these children born to HIV+ mothers avoided infection.
Samantha White is a GHC fellow working for EGPAF in Malawi. Click here for more about EGPAF’s class of GHC fellows.