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Remarks by Ambassador Bruce Wharton at Launch of Families and Communities for the Elimination (FACE) of Pediatric HIV in Zimbabwe




February 13, 2013

It is my great honor to be here today to launch a new, $60 million, 5-year phase of the highly successful U.S. and Zimbabwe partnership to eliminate mother to child HIV transmission in Zimbabwe.  Thank you, Minister Madzorera, for joining us here today.  I would also like to recognize several of the leaders in Zimbabwe’s health sector, who are here with us to bring attention to this very important health program. 

I would also like to recognize my staff from the U.S. Mission, including Melissa Williams, USAID Mission Director; Megan Petersen, our PEPFAR Coordinator; Peter Halpert of the USAID Health Team and the other members of great team who are here today. 

This new phase of our ongoing Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) HIV project will reach approximately 350,000 HIV-positive pregnant women per year through continued support to approximately ninety percent of PMTCT sites in the country.

Our goal in partnership with the Ministry of Health is to reduce the rate of HIV transmission from mother to child from 14% to less than 5% by 2015.

A key principle of the FACE-Pediatric HIV program is that the Ministry leads and owns the program.  The Consortium partners will provide valuable technical support for improved implementation of the national PMTCT program.

The leadership shown by the Ministry of Health has created strong partnerships with donors and improved health services since 2008.  The United States is proud of our role in this partnership, which has not wavered – even during difficult times. 

We are working closely with the Ministry to build the capacity of the health sector through the development of sound Ministry policies and the training of health workers. 

All U.S. health entities in Zimbabwe, including PEPFAR, CDC and USAID, are taking steps to be more effective in building local partnerships and promoting sustainable country programs.

HIV is more than just a health issue.  We recognize that and therefore, we take a whole-of-government approach that involves the collective efforts of many U.S. agencies, including the State Department, USAID and CDC.  Zimbabwe also benefits from a multi-sectoral approach and strong collaboration among the Ministries of Health and Child Welfare, Social Services and Labor, and the National AIDS Council.

Our budget to support Zimbabwe’s fight against HIV has doubled since 2008; in 2013 alone, we will be investing over $95 million in this important health initiative.  With this funding, the U.S. government supports care and support; treatment; prevention; and GOZ health systems strengthening.  Since 2004, the U.S. has supported Zimbabwe with PMTCT services, HIV testing and counseling, ARV care and treatment, and training of health workers.

These programs are clearly in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe, but they are also in the long-term interest of the people of the United States as well.  A healthy Zimbabwe is necessary for a strong, prosperous and just Zimbabwe, and that is the policy objective of the U.S. Government.  

In closing, let me note how critically important this work is.  No country in the world can grow and develop without a commitment to improving the health of its citizens.  From the U.S. to Zimbabwe, it is a fundamental government imperative to work towards ever improving health standards starting at birth.  This program will address an urgent need faced by mothers across this country and give a healthy start on life to thousands of new-born babies.  There is always more to be done, but today we should be proud that our partnership will have a concrete, positive impact on many mothers and children, who we believe will build a productive future for this wonderful country.

Thank you.