Feature story

President Kabila commits to ensuring an AIDS-free generation in Democratic Republic of Congo

11 May 2010

20100510_Obaid-Kabila-Sidibe_200.jpg(from left) Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA’s Executive Director; President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS’ Executive Director. 10 May 2010 Credit: UNFPA

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has pledged to promote the emergence an AIDS-Free Generation, to ensure safer motherhood and to eliminate mother-child-transmission of HIV in his country.

“These are priorities for the women and children of my country,” President Kabila said as he received a joint mission to his nation by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA’s Executive Director, and Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS’ Executive Director.

“I will lead in ensuring an AIDS-Free Generation in DRC,” the President added, expressing his commitment to launch a national initiative to reverse the AIDS epidemic.

The Executive Directors thanked President Kabila for his readiness to make safe motherhood and an AIDS-Free Generation priorities not only in his country, but also in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union.

UNFPA’s Ms. Obaid highlighted the links between women’s health, reproductive health and HIV: “By integrating HIV services for maternal and child health with general sexual and reproductive health, the Democratic Republic of the Congo will reap great benefits for the health system.” She urged the country to seize the opportunity offered by the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) to launch the President’s initiative for an AIDS-Free Generation.

Mr. President – you have the unique opportunity to restore the health and dignity of mothers, sisters and daughters in DRC and beyond.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

UNAIDS’ Mr. Sidibé welcomed President Kabila’s decision to use his leadership as Chair of the SADC to rally his peers across Africa to support this urgent agenda. “Mr. President – you have the unique opportunity to restore the health and dignity of mothers, sisters and daughters in DRC and beyond.”

The Executive Directors stressed the need to take AIDS out of isolation and integrate it with related health interventions for the most effective outcomes. They called the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission by 2015 a concrete but achievable goal.

Currently, more than 40,000 infants are born with HIV infection every year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only 2 per cent of pregnant women have access to services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and only 8 per cent of pregnant of women are offered HIV testing and counselling.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the six countries in the world that together account for 50 per cent of the world’s maternal deaths. Each hour, maternal death takes the lives of about four women.

During their joint mission, the Executive Directors are also scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister, other Government officials, parliamentarians and civil society representatives, including people living with HIV.

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