Taoiseach and President Clinton sign €70 million agreement to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa
Today Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and President Bill Clinton signed a new agreement to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The Taoiseach announced that Ireland would provide €70 million under a renewed partnership with the Clinton Foundation that will focus on addressing HIV/AIDS in two of the worst affected countries in the world - Mozambique and Lesotho.
Under this new agreement funding for Mozambique will reach €60 million over the next five years. Funding for Lesotho will reach €10 million over the same period.
The focus of the partnership will be to support the national responses of both countries to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly in the areas of testing and counselling, the provision of anti-retroviral treatments and critical support for national health systems.
This new agreement will make Ireland the largest country donor to the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement the Taoiseach said:
“Since the end of his US Presidency Bill Clinton has worked to transform AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable disease. He has brokered deals to make HIV drugs affordable and readily available. He has used his influence with world leaders to make the plight of their HIV positive population a problem they could not ignore. Ireland is proud to support the President and the work of his foundation.”
“The first three years of our relationship with the Clinton Foundation has yielded real results for the people of Mozambique, that is the most important thing, development cooperation must be about results. I look forward to seeing similar progress in Lesotho over the coming years.”
The Taoiseach and President Clinton were joined at the announcement in Farmleigh by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern TD, and the Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Conor Lenihan TD.
Ireland has made the fight against HIV/AIDS a core priority of the Irish Aid programme. Ireland now spends in excess of €100 million, (10% of the total overseas aid budget per year) helping developing countries halt the spread and deal with the impact of this disease.
29th September 2006
Note to Editors:
In 2003 the Government entered a partnership with the Clinton Foundation to address the gap in HIV treatment services in low income countries. At that time drugs to treat HIV/AIDS were not affordable to many developing countries that were in the grip of the epidemic. The Clinton Foundation successfully negotiated preferential prices for HIV drugs and brokered deals to make these drugs available to those developing countries bearing the heaviest burden of HIV infection.
Mozambique was one of those countries. In 2003 it was selected as the initial country of focus for the Irish Aid – Clinton Foundation Partnership. With a HIV prevalence rate in excess of 16%, HIV/AIDS has exacerbated the problems of an already impoverished population. Funding through this partnership has enabled the Government of Mozambique to make HIV treatment available in its public health response to HIV/AIDS. Significant progress is being made with over 20,000 people on anti-retroviral treatment and 38 health clinics offering anti-retroviral drugs and 83 offering services to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child during delivery.
Under this new agreement funding for Mozambique will reach €60 million over the next five years. These additional resources and the technical support provided under the Partnership will enable the Government of Mozambique to expand its HIV services. It will in particular focus on ensuing that health workers are being trained in the delivery of HIV services; laboratory services needed for HIV testing are being improved; drug procurement and distribution is improved and more people get access to the HIV services they so desperately need.
Another country of focus for Ireland is Lesotho. With over 23% of the adult population infected with HIV Lesotho is one of the worst affected countries in the world. HIV/AIDS is a tremendous barrier to development in Lesotho. The Government there is particularly keen to ensure that services are made available in the mountainous rural areas which to date are underserved and under resourced.
Under this new agreement Ireland will provide an additional €10 million to the Government of Lesotho. This funding will be targeted at supporting the Ministry of Health to improve its drug procurement and management system; to increase the availability of anti-retroviral drugs; to recruit and train health workers; to strengthen laboratory services; and to ensure that HIV treatment is increasingly available for children.