Feature story

UNDP and UNAIDS joint mission to Mali continues

03 May 2010

20100503_timb_200.jpg(L to R): Malik Sène, Executive Secretary of NAC, Ben Essayouti, Imam of Timbuktu, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé began their four-day mission to Mali in the ancient city of Timbuktu, where they visited Groupe d'Appui à la Formation de Base (GAFB), a local civil society organization that provides HIV prevention through innovative peer education programmes among vulnerable populations, including uniformed services, youth, and domestic workers.

“Twenty years ago when I was Minister of Health in my own county, we had the same chance that you have today in this region to stop the epidemic in its tracks,” said Ms Clark, a native of New Zealand. “We were successful because we had a very inclusive approach. Mali should be the example for other countries in Africa on how to halt the HIV epidemic."

This organization is showing that we can end the HIV epidemic by focusing on those that are most vulnerable.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

Accompanying Helen Clark, Michel Sidibé said that GAFB is working to give people a voice and help the most marginalized members of society. "This organization is showing that we can end the HIV epidemic by focusing on those that are most vulnerable," said Mr Sidibé. "I am honoured to join Helen Clark on her first visit to Mali, which is a clear sign of the UN's commitment to reach zero new HIV infections.”

GAFB started its activities with the support of a World Bank grant, and continues to expand its services through resources from the Global Fund. Earlier this year, the Global Fund awarded Mali a two-year grant of US $43 million to intensify HIV prevention, treatment, care and support across the country.

In meetings with high-level government officials on May 3-4, including President Amadou Toumani Touré, the executive heads of UNDP and UNAIDS will call for an accelerated national AIDS response in the lead-up to 2015, the target date set by the international community for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Mr Sidibé will also reiterate his call for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. An estimated 12% of pregnant women in Mali received an HIV test in 2008 and, that same year, only 18% of infants born to HIV-positive women were given antiretrovirals to prevent HIV infection.

According to government estimates, Mali’s HIV prevalence declined from 1.7% in 2001 to 1.3 % in 2006 and about 27 000 people were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2009, representing more than 80% of those in need. UNAIDS estimates that 100 000 people are currently living with HIV in Mali.

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First joint mission by UNDP and UNAIDS to Mali (01 May 2010)