UNDP Opening Remarks on the 6th Annual Conference and Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS coalition
Hon. Anne Makinda (MP) and Speaker of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Lediana Mafuru (MP) and Chair, Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS Coalition, Dr. Fatma Mrisho, Chair, Tanzania Commission for AIDS,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the our Resident Representative and our Country Director, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is highly honoured to have been invited to make a statement at the official opening of this annual conference of the Tanzania Parliamentarians AIDS Coalition. Relations between UNDP and the National Assembly are long and close spanning more than a decade in Tanzania. Globally, UNDP is committed to building better Parliaments and stronger democracies covering more than fifty countries.
One of the main United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP) outcomes is to enhance the ability of key institutions to effectively implement their election and political function and better fulfill their representative, legislative and oversight responsibilities. Our partnership is based on a shared understanding that development depends on good governance, and good governance depends on strong parliaments. It is through our Legislatures Support Project (LSP) that we have been working closely with respective portfolio committees of the National Assembly and the House of Representatives in Zanzibar. With the recent changes in the work cycle of the National Assembly, the institution continues to empower portfolio committees involved in debating and decision making on national priorities, budget processes, and oversight of such important areas as poverty reduction, social services, energy and environment, and this very critical area of scaling up the national response to HIV and AIDS.
In addition to our work through the LSP, UNDP works closely with the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and the Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC) to strengthen district and community based interventions to enhance the national response. Since the first reported cases of AIDS in Tanzania, infections have spread rapidly, leading to a generalized epidemic and a devastating impact on social and economic development. The HIV epidemic is driven by a complex set of intertwining biological, behavioural, and underlying socio-cultural and socio-economic factors. In response, Tanzania’s current HIV prevention approach is comprised of various behavioral and biomedical interventions for the general population and vulnerable groups
Most biomedical interventions such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), HIV counseling and testing (HCT), blood transfusion safety, STI case management, medical infection control, Male circumcision, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP); Prevention of Gender Based Violence and Mainstreaming Gender into HIV and AIDS programming are based on national technical guidelines that are founded on current evidence and are regularly updated. UNDP supports the National Vision of a “Tanzania free of HIV” when addressing the epidemic and we will continue to support the national response under the leadership of TACAIDS and ZAC with the ultimate goal of getting to Zero New HIV Infections, Zero AIDS Related Deaths, and Zero Discrimination. We have most recently deployed over 30 National UN Volunteers to support community HIV and AIDS initiatives at the grass root levels of districts to assist Local Councils in their efforts to combat HIV and AIDS and to strengthen community services.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite the number of sound initiatives to combat HIV and AIDS, there are still some challenges related to accessibility of health services to targeted groups particularly to Key Populations. Recent studies conducted in various regions of Tanzania have shown varying degrees of HIV prevalence among Key Population Groups and this variation is very alarming calling for more effective strategic HIV prevention interventions. The stigma and discrimination experienced by this group are part of key challenges that hamper accessibility of services and therefore negate efforts being made to attain the national vision of a “Tanzania free of HIV”. UNDP is supporting Tanzania’s follow-up on the recommendations from the 2012 report of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law to eliminate stigma, discrimination and human rights violations, which includes enhancing the legal environment for People Living with HIV and AIDS. We trust that TAPAC will be a key stakeholder in the preparation of Legal Environment Assessment and planned National Dialogue to support creating a more enabling environment for the national HIV and AIDS response.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate UNDP’s continued support towards combating HIV and AIDS in the country through both the HIV and AIDS and the Governance programmes that respond to implementation of Tanzania’s national priorities and the UNDAP.