By Chimwemwe Njoloma−Mana
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera Tuesday joined the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day and International Candlelight Memorial at an event held at Mitundu Primary School Ground in the area of Senior Chief Chiseka in Lilongwe.
The event attracted prominent figures including the First Lady Madame Monica Chakwera, Vice President Saulos Chilima, Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Hara and the global community, just to mention a few.
Chakwera toured selected pavilions to appreciate efforts being made in fighting HIV/AIDS before proceeding to the platform where he led the candle lighting, an activity done to remember lives claimed by the pandemic and give hope to those living with the disease.
Delivering his speech, the President reiterated government’s commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS amidst Coronavirus (Covid-19).
In 2015, Malawi government subscribed and committed to the 90:90:90 targets set by UNAIDS which envisions that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
“Malawi has registered success on these targets. As of June, 2020, we were already moving towards achieving the 95:95:95 targets set for the year 2025. Because currently, 91 percent of people know their HIV status, 87 percent are on treatment and 94 percent have viral suppression,” he said.
Chakwera said moving forward, his administration will continue advocating for better and optimized treatment for people living with HIV.
He said it is through these deliberate strides that the termination of HIV and AIDS by 2030 as a global-viewed threat is an achievable goal but stakeholders cannot afford to be relaxed.
Chakwera then urged all stakeholders to collaborate and support the implementation of the Plan while on the same time fighting other life-threatening pandemics like Covid-19.
Minister of Health, Khumbidze Chiponda, said government remains vigilant in fighting the pandemic despite the wake of Covid-19 which has drawn much attention and thanked all stakeholders who support the fight.
“As a ministry, we make sure that the efforts we put in combating Covid-19 are not jeopardizing that which we are investing in fighting HIV and AIDS. We have sufficient drugs in the hospitals to carter for everyone living with HIV and we make sure that they all receive their prescription.
“We therefore wish to register our sincere gratitude to all stakeholders especially the United Nations family for their continued financial and technical support rendered to our country. We have made remarkable strides thanks to their support and indeed we are winning the battle,” she said.
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said there is need to continue pointing on the path of solidarity and sharing responsibility in fighting HIV and AIDS.
“Malawi is indeed beyond targets. There is so much progress being made in response against the pandemic but the war is still not over. There are 33, 000 new HIV infections annually in Malawi and the country aims for less than 11, 000 infections yearly. So this development indeed calls for collective effort in fighting the pandemic. The responsibility is not only for the government,” said Torres.
Currently, over 850, 000 Malawians are HIV positive.
This year’s commemoration was globally held under the theme ‘Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility as we remember to take action and live beyond HIV.’