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Malawi witnesses a number of encouraging trends in the HIV epidemic-Madam Mutharika

The Presidential Advisor on Safe Motherhood, HIV and AIDS, Madam Callister Mutharika, says Malawi has registered tremendous progress in the management of HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programmes.

 Madam Mutharika pronounced this on Thursday, 29th October in Lilongwe when she officially opened the Joint Annual Review of the National Response to HIV and AIDS for the 2013 to 2014 financial year.

The theme for the review which runs from 30th to 31st October 2014 is: The Academia and HIV and AIDS Response: Towards Achieving the Three Zeros.”

Amidst numerous challenges, she cited a number of notable achievements that have been registered in the national response to HIV and AIDS.

“Although HIV incidence remains high, there has also been a steady reduction in the number of new infections from around 58,000 in 2010 to 34,000 in 2013.

“This decline in the number of new infections can be attributed in part to the rapid scaling up of a combination of several HIV prevention and treatment interventions”, Madam Mutharika said.

She went on to say: “In 2003, when the ART programme was piloted in 9 sites across the country, there were only 4,000 patients enrolled on the ART programme.

“By the end of March, 2014, over 600,000 people were ever initiated on ART, and about 500,000of these were retained alive on ART. 

“Correspondingly, as the number of patients enrolled and retained on ART has been increasing, the number of AIDS-related deaths has also been steadily declining”, she said.

She further stated that by June, 2014, about 275,000 AIDS-related deaths had been averted through the ART programme.

She also said that the national rollout of Option B+ has seen 80 percent of HIV positive pregnant women commencing ART and this strategy has contributed to the reduction of vertical transmission rates from mother to child by 66 percent.

Mutharika, therefore, urged participants to critically review the progress reports for year under review and come up with concrete actions that will help to enhance the country’s efforts to scale up and consolidate substantive HIV prevention and treatment interventions that will contribute significantly to further reduction of new HIV infections.

She concluded her speech by thanking all donors and development partners for the financial, technical and material support towards HIV and AIDS programmes in Malawi.

Among others, these donors and development partners include: the Global Fund; the World Bank; the British Department for International Development (DFID); the United States Government; and, the United Nations Family.

Speaking earlier, Honarable Deus Gumba, MP and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Nutrition, HIV and AIDS said that his committee has noted positive gains in the national response including reduction of HIV incidence in the general population.

He said that his committee will continue lobbying for more resources towards the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country.

“As a Committee responsible for HIV and AIDS in Parliament, we shall ensure that the partnerships built over the years are strengthened. We will continue to work towards lobbying for increased flow of financial resources, in order to sustain HIV and AIDS programmes in the Country”, Honourable Gumba said.

He further stated that his Committee is commitment to push for the enactment of the HIV and AIDS Management Bill.

“These efforts will also be extended to other enabling legal reforms in order to effectively respond to the HIV and AIDS epidemic”, Gumba said.

In her remarks, Reverend Getrude Kapuma, Vice Chaiperson of the National AIDS Commission Board of Commissioners stated that it was pleasing that notable achievements have been registered over the years in the national response to HIV and AIDS to an extent that more than 7 million people have ever been tested for HIV and received their results.

She encouraged organizations that implement HIV and AIDS interventions to continue working hard.

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Davie Kalomba, Executive Director of NAC commended participants for attending the review meeting stating that such reviews offer all stakeholders to take stock of the achievements and challenges in the national response to HIV and AIDS.

The review meeting was attended by 350 participants drawn from international, national, sub-national and grassroots organizations.

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