Feature story

UNAIDS Executive Director calls for increased national spending on AIDS in Togo

23 February 2012

UNAIDS Executive Director calls for increased national spending on AIDS in Togo

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé (left),
photographed here with Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo of Togo on 21 February.
Credit: UNAIDS/J-C Abalo

Sustainable financing for the AIDS response was a key topic of discussion in a meeting on 21 February between UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo of Togo.

Noting with concern that Togo relies on external sources to finance more than 80% of its HIV response, the UNAIDS Executive Director urged the leadership of Togo to take on a greater share of national AIDS investments.

“We cannot put a person on antiretroviral treatment for 30 years and depend on external aid to cover the bill,” said Mr Sidibé, while meeting with Prime Minister Houngbo in Lomé, Togo’s capital city. “We need an African solution,” he added.

Mr Sidibé emphasized that HIV resources in Togo should be prioritized for populations at higher risk of HIV infection, such as sex workers and men who have sex with men. To that end, a comprehensive understanding of the national epidemic, including good data, was vitally important, he added.

We cannot put a person on antiretroviral treatment for 30 years and depend on external aid to cover the bill. We need an African solution

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

During the meeting, Mr Sidibé congratulated the leadership of Togo for progress in the national HIV response. According to government figures, knowledge on HIV prevention and transmission among the population is relatively high, at 80%. Access to antiretroviral treatment in Togo has more than doubled since 2008, from approximately 11 000 people to more than 25 000. Mr Sidibé urged the leadership of Togo to build on these gains and ensure treatment access for all people living with HIV.

The UNAIDS Executive Director expressed concern that a majority (56%) of pregnant women in Togo lack access to services that prevent HIV transmission from mother to child. He commended Togo’s leaders for their efforts to develop a national plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children.

Acknowledging the gaps in access to services for HIV-positive pregnant women, Prime Minister Houngbo said that the leadership of Togo was fully committed to the UNAIDS target of Zero new HIV infections among children. The Prime Minister expressed his commitment to achieving the targets in the 2011 Political Declaration on AIDS and echoed Mr Sidibé’s call for increased domestic spending on AIDS.

Mr Sidibé’s official visit in Lomé was part of a four-country mission to Togo, Bénin, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.