13 January 2020
• Mr Han Mengjie, Director of National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention;
• Partners in other Government departments, community organizations and the business sector;
• Colleagues in the UN Country Team and Members of the Joint Team;
• Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen
Appreciation and Season’s greetings
I am honoured to convene and to co-chair (with NCAIDS Han Mengjie), this inaugural high level meeting of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV, which we anticipate will be an annual event. Before we begin, allow me, on behalf of the United Nations, to convey season’s greetings, a very happy new year to all our partners and our very warm regards for the upcoming Chinese new year and spring festival.
The United Nations looks forward to an even further strengthening of the partnership with China in this important year, which marks the first year of the ‘Decade of Action’ for the Sustainable Development Goals. This year also marks the UN’s 75th anniversary, and the signing of a new Cooperation Framework (for the period 2021 to 2025) with the Government of China.
This meeting therefore takes place at an important time and provides opportunity not just to review implementation of our collective work on the UN Joint Plan 2018-2019 but to also provide input for these wider processes.
Global Progress on the AIDS response
The world has witnessed unprecedented progress in the AIDS response: In the past decade, overall new infections declined by 16% (with a more significant decline in children of 41%); As a result of extending life-saving treatment to People Living with HIV, AIDS-related deaths in the same period declined by 33%. Currently a total of 24.5 million are on HIV treatment. However, despite scientific progress in the testing, prevention and management of HIV and steady increase in coverage of services, there remain significant challenges that must be urgently addressed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals target of “Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030”.
In particular, the world is seriously off track in meeting HIV prevention targets set for 2020 at the UN General Assembly High Level meeting on HIV and AIDS in 2015 and in the global UNAIDS strategy, roughly 14 million people who are HIV positive are awaiting treatment and essential information and services are not reaching the populations that need them because of continuing stigma and discrimination. People are still too fearful or ashamed to come forward for services and policy environments in many parts of the world are not enabling them to do so.
The UN Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS as a Model for UN Reform
After decades of experience, we are all too aware that HIV is more than just a health issue. It requires an integrated, multisectoral response which is dependent on each sector playing its part.
Indeed, the 2030 agenda calls on us to exhibit this same collaboration and integration, if we are to achieve positive and sustainable transformation for people and for our planet and to ensure we leaves no one behind. UNAIDS (and the Joint Programme) has served as an exemplary, pioneering model within the UN system with the coordination and implementation structures it has developed across 11 UN agencies and the multisectoral partnership across government departments, the private sector and community groups, all joined together by a unified strategy, budget and accountability framework to deliver for people living with and affected by HIV. And to ensure no one is left behind, communities form an integral part of the governing structure of the UNAIDS Board on equal standing with member states and are key to the implementation arrangements of the Joint Programme.
I am pleased that this same multi-sectoral partnership is displayed here today.
China’s Role in Global Health
China has demonstrated a rising commitment in international development and is a vital actor in achieving the SDGs both at home and abroad. Through platforms such as Belt Road Initiative, the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), South-South cooperation, China has promoted new spaces for dialogue and created new opportunities for cross-cutting engagement. As one of the 35 UNAIDS Fast-Track countries, China has placed the fight against AIDS as a top priority in its global health diplomacy and development cooperation and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere congratulations to China for its excellent leadership of the UNAIDS Board, both as Deputy Chair in 2018 and then as Chair in 2019.
China’s HIV response
China has done a commendable job in scaling up its efforts to tackle the HIV epidemic. Government, communities, business actors alongside UN agencies and other partners have all jointly contributed to a number of important achievements which we will hear about today. Among the key accomplishments of our partnership are:
Steady progress in meeting the 90-90-90 targets. By the end of October 2019, about three out of four people living with HIV knew their status, of whom 87% were on treatment and 94% of those on treatment were virally suppressed.
Substantial progress in efforts towards the elimination of Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV (eMTCT) as a result of the pilot program launched in Yunnan, Guangdong, and Zhejiang in 2017, which is expected to pave the way for nation-wide elimination (alongside the elimination of syphilis and Hepatitis B);
A partnership with community groups which is also demonstrating how bringing them into the HIV response helps reach the most vulnerable and marginalized in society. The China AIDS Fund for NGOs (CAFNGO) is a good example of a social contracting programme and one that defends the voices and needs of vulnerable populations, making sure no one is left behind.
In addition to China’s domestic AIDS response, its leadership in the global HIV response is equally significant. NCAIDS has organized annual South-South exchanges with a number of African and Asian countries every year for the past three years and is providing a platform for experiences sharing. China has also provided strong support in Africa on issues to do with access to medicines, including anti-retroviral drugs and other related HIV and sexual and reproductive health commodities with active engagement of the business sector.
I am sure there will be more examples from the presentations today but we must also address remaining challenges, particularly with issues to do with young people, where greater progress is urgently needed as well as in the areas of stigma and discrimination both within broader society as well as within institutions.
In conclusion, 2020 is a critical year in the global HIV response and all countries will converge at a UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV in 2021 to report on how they have met the High Level Meeting Political Declaration Targets for 2020 and then chart a course to 2025 and beyond.
In China the development of the 14th Plan converges with the development of a new Cooperation Framework for the UN’s partnership with China in a new era for UN reform. I hope that beyond looking backwards at our implementation in 2018 and 2019 that this meeting will provide clear guidance to the United Nations family on the expectations of our partners in 2020 and beyond both in China and in China’s engagement with the rest of the world.
Working together and ensuring we leave no one behind, we can achieve our promise to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 and I look forward to our deliberations today and I wish us a successful meeting!