Malawi yesterday joined the international community in observing World Aids Day with a resolve to consolidate gains made in fighting the pandemic through a new five-year HIV and Aids Strategic Plan to improve coordination and scale-up the efforts.
During the commemoration at Mitundu Primary School ground in Lilongwe, President Lazarus Chakwera said the strides Malawi has made in fighting the pandemic should spur the nation towards achieving the goal of eliminating HIV as a public health threat by 2030.
The President said: “I believe it is important for us to reinvigorate HIV prevention efforts and fast track implementation of interventions to stop the spread.”
And launching the five-year HIV and Aids Strategic Plan, Chakwera, who was accompanied by Vice- President Saulos Chilima, said the plan will be key in fighting HIV and Aids.
He said: “This is an overall guiding framework to fight HIV and Aids for the next five years. I, therefore, urge all stakeholders to support the implementation of this plan.”
The President saluted the United States Government for its support through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), the Global Fund, the United Nations and other partners in the fight against the pandemic.
In 2015, Malawi committed to the 90-90-90 treatment targets set by UNAids which envisioned that 90 percent of all people living with HIV should know their status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV be on life-prolonging antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy having viral suppression.
On the target, said Chakwera: “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 are virally suppressed.
“Going forward, my administration will continue advocating for better and optimised regiments for people living with HIV.”
The President, however, cautioned Malawians against complacency in view of the achievements, saying he is disturbed to learn that new HIV infections are increasing among adolescent girls and young women.
In her speech, UN resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres urged the government not to forget other key issues as it strives to eliminate HIV and Aids as a health threat.
She also lamented the fact that the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic on the landscape has complicated things in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Alongside the World Aids Day commemoration was also an International Aids CandleLight Memorial which was initially supposed to be held in May but failed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In July this year, International Aids Society in collaboration with Amfar Institute for HIV Cure Research and Friends of the Global Fight Against Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria named Malawi among six locations in the world that had registered a dramatic reduction in HIV incidence and mortality through crucial policy changes to end Aids by 2030.
Besides Malawi, the report also mentioned London in the United Kingdom, New South Wales in Australia, Rakai in Uganda, San Francisco in USA and Thailand