PS Ministry of Health
University of Eswatini representatives
Baylor Executive Director
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to be here today at the launch of the D43 Siyakhula (See-ya-KU-la) Program Launch. The program is funded by the United States National Institute of Health, the NIH, through the Fogerty International Center. Founded in the late 1880’s the NIH is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. The Fogerty International Center at the NIH is dedicated to supporting and facilitating global health research conducted by U.S. and international investigators, building partnerships between health research institutions in the U.S. and abroad, and training the next generation of scientists to address global health needs.
The remarkable progress made in treating and preventing HIV in Eswatini is through the leadership and collective efforts of the government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, civil society, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector. The United States has committed to standing with Eswatini in the fight against the devastating impacts of HIV. When the United States HIV international assistance program PEPFAR began work in Eswatini, fewer than 500 people were on life-saving anti-retroviral therapy. Now, PEPFAR is supporting services for more than 200,000 adults and children who are receiving antiretroviral therapy, and nearly 9,000 emaSwati who began HIV treatment in the past year.
Eswatini faces the persistent challenge of the HIV epidemic, now entering its fifth decade – and far from being over. Last year it is estimated over 2000 people died of HIV-related causes and over 4000 were newly infected with HIV. These figures show that HIV continues to take an overwhelming toll. While there is no cure yet for HIV, there are tools available now in Eswatini to prevent its spread. We urge those who know they are infected to act responsibly in protecting others. Those who suspect they are infected should seek medical assistance. There are medications available now to prevent HIV, including for victims of rape. Please take advantage of the tools available to protect yourselves and others against this virus.
Globally, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) remains the largest commitment made by any nation ever to address a single disease. It is an investment in saving lives – an historic symbol of our friendship as nations and the generosity of the American people.
We are proud to participate in the launch today, and congratulate the Baylor College of Medicine, Ministry of Health and the University of Eswatini for successfully competing for this highly selective and prestigious grant. I extend my congratulations also to the scholars that have been selected to be trained under this program. We all put our faith in you to gain all you can from this opportunity, and to be part of driving the change that will help us all see the AIDS-free future together.
Through this program being launched today, which is focused on growing the knowledge base on HIV and AIDS in infants, children and adolescents, while increasing homegrown research capacity of emaSwati researchers, the United States deepens it’s investments to reach sustainable control of the HIV epidemic.
We are proud to invest in the future of emaSwati by addressing health threats posed by HIV and AIDS, and by the same token we must also work together to help Eswatini heal from last year’s civil unrest. We look to the government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to communicate details on the upcoming national dialogue and develop, together with civil society, a process that will promote healing for the entire country. We applaud the example shown by Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA in launching the Dialogue on Jobs. No challenge is insurmountable when approached openly, honestly, and inclusively.