Feature story

UNAIDS Executive Director calls on Ethiopian Government to lead on ownership and shared responsibility

04 December 2011

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé meets with the Ethiopian Prime Minister H.E. Meles Zenawi at his office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Credit: UNAIDS

Ahead of the opening of the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa (ICASA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister H.E. Meles Zenawi at his office in the capital.

During the meeting, Mr Sidibé commended the Prime Minister for his strong political leadership and the country’s ownership of the AIDS response. “It is encouraging to see the Government of Ethiopia at the forefront of the HIV response,” said the UNAIDS Executive Director. "Ethiopia’s remarkable efforts to contain the epidemic and the integration of AIDS into the national health and development agenda will ensure sustainable results."

The two leaders discussed the need for robust political momentum for shared values and responsibilities to expand and sustain the AIDS response. Although many countries in Africa have increased their domestic investments on HIV in recent years, they continue to rely heavily on international assistance. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi expressed a strong commitment to initiate a political debate in Africa on country ownership and shared responsibility for the AIDS response.

Expressing concern about the current global financial crisis and reduction in international assistance available for AIDS, Mr Sidibé stressed that Africa would need to find innovative ways of increasing domestic resources. “We need predictable and long-term financing—domestic and international—to restore confidence among people for accessing HIV prevention and treatment services," said Mr Sidibé.

According to Ethiopian government sources, by the end of 2010, an estimated 1.2 million people were living with HIV in the country. In 2010, more than 9 million people received HIV counselling and testing. HIV counselling and testing sites in the country increased from 658 in 2004 to 2 309 in 2010. Currently, 743 public and private health facilities in Ethiopia are providing antiretroviral treatment services for 330 000 people living with HIV, up from just three health facilities in 2004.