Update

Mauritanian President to support African leadership in AIDS response as new AU Chair

21 March 2014

The President of Mauritania and new Chair of the African Union (AU) will support African leaders in increasing action in the response to HIV.  President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz met with the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé on 20 March in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  Mr Sidibé congratulated the President on his recent election to the rotating presidency of the AU and urged him to lead efforts to accelerate transformative reforms in the responses to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

In 2012, African leaders committed to a Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, TB and Malaria Response in Africa, charting a new course for the continent’s response to the three diseases. Mr Sidibé stressed the urgent need for African countries to take ownership of their epidemics and reduce dependency on international financing. He also reiterated the need to produce antiretroviral and other essential medicines on the continent and build capacity and knowledge on the production of medicines.

As well as playing a leading role in the African Union, Mauritania is also a member of the League of Arab States, which earlier this month endorsed a highly innovative strategy to halt the AIDS epidemic in Arab countries.  Mr Sidibé pointed out that while Africa is the region most affected by HIV in the world, the Arab region has one of the fastest growing epidemics globally. Since 2001 the number of people newly infected with HIV in Arab countries has increased by more than 47%. He called on Mauritania to leverage its unique position and act as a bridge between African and Arab institutions, spurring the transfer of key know-how and technology in the AIDS response.

Mauritania recently adopted a law which protects the rights of people living with HIV and provides free antiretroviral therapy to people eligible for HIV treatment. According to national authorities the number of people accessing life-saving treatment increased from 1 866 in 2012 to 2 400 in 2013, an increase of 27% in just one year.

During his official visit, Mr Sidibé also met with Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf and Minister of Health Ahmedou Ould Hademine Ould Jelvoune. He also visited an outpatient treatment centre in Nouakchott that provides integrated services including prevention, treatment and social support services for HIV and TB.

Quotes

“We are committed to fighting this epidemic just as we have fought terrorism and insecurity which affect our daily life.”

Chair of the African Union and President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

Quotes

“Mauritania is at the cross-roads of Africa and the Arab region and can lead a fruitful exchange of competency and technology, which will drive innovation and change.”

UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé