China: UNAIDS awards leadership excellence
17 July 2007
UNAIDS today acknowledged good progress that has been made in China’s response to AIDS, presenting special awards to China’s Vice Minister of Health, Dr Wang Longde and Professor Zhang Beichuan from Qingdao University, for their leadership on AIDS issues.
At an awards ceremony held Beijing, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot congratulated Dr Longde and Professor Beichuan for their dedication and commitment to helping China get ahead of its AIDS epidemic and establish a sustainable, multi-sectoral response.
“ As I visit countries around the world, I witness time and again that strong and committed leadership brings progress in the AIDS response,” he said.
“ Today I am honored to present awards to two true pioneers, who have been at the forefront of the AIDS response in the country and who have encouraged others to follow,” he added.
“ This kind of enlightened leadership on AIDS is critical to getting ahead of the epidemic and keeping the challenges AIDS presents high in the minds of policy makers and the general public,” said Dr Piot.
Dr Wang Longde has been China’s Vice Minister of Health since 1995. He completed his graduate study at China Academy of Medical Sciences before holding the position Health Bureau Director in the Gansu Province. Dr Wang Longde has been instrumental in making a response to AIDS a priority for China. He has placed particular emphasis on ensuring a multisetoral approach to AIDS and encouraging a range of partners to join China’s response.
Professor Zhang Beichuan from Qingdao University and a member of National AIDS Expert Committee, has undertaken ground-breaking work in raising HIV awareness among men who have sex with men, breaking down stigma and discrimination against people at high risk of HIV infection and developing focused HIV prevention programmes. Professor Beichuan has been working on AIDS issues since the mid-1980s when he started sexual education programming. In the early 1990s he started research on homosexuality, publishing his first paper in 1994, where he also dealt with AIDS among men who have sex with men as an issue. Professor Beichuan implemented one of the earliest large-scale HIV interventions among men who have sex with men in China.
The UNAIDS award ceremony took place as part of a week-long country visit to China by the UNAIDS Executive Director, to learn more about how the country is intensifying and moving forwards its response to AIDS. The mission travelled through Henan, one of the provinces most affected by AIDS – visiting Shangcai county and the provincial capital Zhengzhou. Following the Henan mission, Dr Piot travelled on to the Chinese capital Beijing.
During the week long trip, the UNAIDS Executive Director is highlighting a number of key issues such as the need for continued and sustained commitment and leadership on AIDS, the need for focused HIV prevention programmes to reach the people most at risk and the continued need to reduce AIDS-related stigma and discrimination in China.
“I am confident that China can continue scaling up its response to AIDS, focusing programmes to reach the people that need them most, involving people living with HIV and “making the money work” – ensuring the funding available for AIDS is used most effectively and efficiently. It is still early to tell, but China might just be turning the corner on AIDS”, said Dr Piot.
UNAIDS has been supporting efforts to curb the AIDS epidemic in China for over ten years. As part of the mission, Dr Piot will also discuss United Nations continued support to China and promote the new ‘UN Joint Programme on AIDS’ that has been developed in the country. The new programme includes a clear division of labour between UN agencies working on AIDS and aims at ensuring that the United Nations ‘delivers as one’ on AIDS.
“As China’s response develops, so does the UN response within the country. Increased coordination will enable us all to be more effective. We look forward to supporting China in its response to AIDS and working together with China in expanding the global response to AIDS, particularly in Africa”, the UNAIDS Executive Director said.
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