UNAIDS Executive Director highlights progress in Chad’s AIDS response
31 May 2012
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé concluded his official visit to Chad on 31 May after meeting with President Idriss Deby Itno, First Lady Hinda Deby Itno, senior government officials and civil society to highlight the country’s progress in the AIDS response.
Mr Sidibé met with President Deby Itno to discuss opportunities and challenges in Chad’s AIDS response. One area of the national AIDS response that has seen progress is access to antiretroviral treatment. Since 2007, the provision of HIV treatment has been offered by the state free of charge. According to the Progress report 2011: Global HIV/AIDS response, issued jointly by UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF, an estimated 32 000 people were receiving antiretroviral treatment at the end of 2010, covering 39% of people who are eligible for treatment.
President Deby Itno highlighted that Chad finances more than half (53%) of the resources required for treatment. He stressed that the AIDS response has enabled Chad to place people at the centre of the country’s development agenda.
Chad has a national adult HIV prevalence of 3.4%. The rate of HIV infection is particularly high among sex workers, estimated at 25.5% in the capital city of Ndjamena.
Mr Sidibé shared with the President his concern over the high levels of stigma and discrimination in the country, especially among people living in rural areas. He emphasized that stigma and discrimination drive people living with HIV underground, away from much-needed HIV services, and if left unaddressed could undermine the effectiveness of the country’s recent gains.
Promoting national ownership
In view of the upcoming African Union Summit in Malawi, Mr. Sidibé encouraged President Deby Itno to support and promote the agenda for country ownership and shared responsibility among the other African Heads of State. He underscored that Chad has an unprecedented opportunity to contribute greater domestic resources to complement HIV investments from international partners. Currently, Chad relies on external sources to finance more than 85% of its national AIDS programmes.
“Chad has demonstrated remarkable progress in expanding treatment access, in fighting stigma and discrimination and in ensuring the rights of people living with HIV are protected. The AIDS response presents an important opportunity to change the development paradigm,” said Mr Sidibé.
Eliminating new HIV infections among children
In their discussions, President Deby Itno and Mr Sidibé agreed that greater momentum is needed to increase services to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). Although the number of PMTCT sites across the country has increased from 93 in 2009 to 140 in 2011, coverage remains low, at 10%. One of the main bottlenecks is the lack of coordination and integration between PMTCT and maternal and reproductive health programmes.
Chad has demonstrated remarkable progress in expanding treatment access, in fighting stigma and discrimination and in ensuring the rights of people living with HIV are protected. The AIDS response presents an important opportunity to change the development paradigm
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
Mr Sidibé joined President Deby Into at an event on 31 May to launch the national plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children. Chad is one of 22 countries included in the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive by 2015.
As part of his visit, Mr Sidibé held bilateral meetings with Chad’s Prime Minister, Emmanuel Nadingar, the Minister of Public Health, Mamouth Nahor Ngawara, and the Minister of Finance, Christian Georges Dinguimbaye.
Before concluding his two-day trip, Mr Sidibé met with the First Lady of Chad, Hinda Deby Itno, to discuss her work with the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). He also took the opportunity to interact with the national network of people living with HIV (RNTAP+) and participate in a forum on human rights and HIV, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the visit, President Deby Itno awarded Mr Sidibé one of the country’s highest decorations—the Grand Chancelier de l'ordre National du Tchad—in recognition of his commitment and contribution to the global AIDS response.