New Models, New Partnerships: Reclaiming Hope Against the Impacts of AIDSAmbassador Randall Tobias, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
Opening Remarks at Panel Discussion
July 20, 2005
I would like to welcome you to this panel discussion on HIV/AIDS. My name is Randy Tobias, and I serve as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator. In that role, I lead President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief--a plan you may know as "PEPFAR."
The global HIV/AIDS challenge is at the top of the President’s priorities. At $15 billion over 5 years, the Emergency Plan is the largest international initiative focused on a single disease that any nation has ever launched. The United States is now spending at least as much as the rest of the world’s donor nations combined--just one indication that we take this emergency very, very seriously.
The subject of this Forum is growth and opportunity for Africa. The tragic fact is that HIV/AIDS is among the harshest constraints on the continent’s growth and on opportunities for its people. While the face of the pandemic differs from one country to another, HIV/AIDS is a reality that must be confronted by every nation in Africa--and indeed, by every nation in the world.
I don’t think I need to convince this audience that HIV/AIDS is hampering Africa’s growth, because you see its impact every day. You know that it strikes down adults in their most productive years. In too many cases, you have had to mourn the loss of your fellow workers.
Rather than try to convince you of what you already know--that we face an emergency--the focus of today’s panel is something you may not know: that your organization can make a difference. In facing an issue as overwhelming as HIV/AIDS, the need is for new models of partnership--successful models which can be adapted and replicated.
Each of our panelists offers a practical model for taking the step from wanting to help to making it happen. I am proud to say that each of their organizations is among over a thousand Emergency Plan partners worldwide today. In fact, if I had to reduce the basic strategy of the Emergency Plan to one word, that word would be "partnership."
It would be folly for the United States, or in fact for any other outsider, to parachute into your countries and try to dictate how to help your citizens. Instead, we are coming to you in a spirit of partnership, supporting your national strategies. I believe there can be a temptation in the international development arena to forget whose country it is. Well, the U.S. will not forget that it’s your country, and our role is to support your leadership.
The Emergency Plan also recognizes that an effective response must include the contributions of all sectors of society, including governments, civil society institutions, and the private sector--the three represented on today’s panel.
Working in partnership is important for another reason: only a locally owned, locally led response will be sustainable.
One of the most important things any international partner can do is help the host country build its own capacity to respond. One of our goals is to support our host nations in reaching the point where our help is no longer needed. These organizations have worked to build responses that are sustainable for the long term.
One of the best aspects of my job is the opportunity to work in partnership with inspiring leaders like those sharing this podium with me today. I would like to introduce them now.
My co-moderator is Honorable Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Government of Uganda. Uganda, as many of you, know has led a highly successful, multi-sectoral campaign against HIV/AIDS that now serves as a model the world over.
Representing our governmental partners is our first panelist, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Executive Secretary of Rwanda’s National Commission To Fight AIDS, which is the Rwandan Government’s coordinating body for the HIV/AIDS response. There is no substitute for government leadership of coordination efforts--partnerships are most productive, now and in the future, when assistance is conducted within a host government’s national strategy, with host governments leading the response. I’m very grateful to have her here representing the extraordinary leadership her government has shown.
Our second panelist is Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, Director of the Joint Clinical Research Center in Uganda, an example of leadership in the civil society sector. The Joint Clinical Research Center is among the largest community-based treatment programs, with nearly 40,000 people on treatment. His organization is a model of partnering local innovation--communities know best how to organize an effective response--with the support of donors to expand the effort of local groups. Peter is a hero to me and to many for the possibilities he has demonstrated for bringing complicated treatment to resource-poor settings.
Finally, Dr. Brian Brink, Senior Vice President for Health at Anglo American in South Africa, will discuss the role of the private sector in building sustainable partnerships. Dr. Brink and Anglo American have led the way in showing the private sector what they can do, what they must do, to help turn the tide of AIDS. You may find his presentation surprising; I know you will find it inspiring.
Minister Kutesa will offer brief remarks, and our panelists will speak for up to 10 minutes each. This should leave about 20 minutes for questions from the audience.