Closing Session of WAD UN family 2011 - UN Resident Coordinator Opening Remarks

13 Dec 2011

Dear heads of Agencies,
Dear colleagues from the United Nations family
All UN staff

It is a great pleasure for me to be with you at this important session for the celebration of World AIDS Day within the UN family in Rwanda. The AIDS epidemic is a challenge for the overall development of the country. As the UN, we consider an effective response to AIDS epidemic as crucial if we are to reach the overall MDG targets.

That is why HIV and AIDS is among our TOP priorities to support the country – the UN family in Rwanda has dedicated a specific thematic area – the HIV theme group, to coordinate UN support to the national HIV response. Under the leadership of UNAIDS, all UN agencies provide technical and financial support to national institutions, including various stakeholders and civil society organizations, with the purpose of making Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support a reality.

In that framework – the UN considers as essential the goal of implementing HIV programs at the work place. It is in this context that UN CARES has been tasked to plan and monitor activities of HIV programs with UN work places. Their programs include HIV prevention services, for example, availing condoms at the work place, promoting dialogue on HIV prevention, as well as support to people living with HIV. These services are very important for all UN staff, and we commend the work that has been done so far, but we also request a doubling of effort to ensure that these services reach everybody.

At this occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate that the UN Country Team in Rwanda appreciates the work UN cares and the UN clinic are doing in the framework of responding to HIV.
 
I noticed from the speech of the UNAIDS Executive Director that this year has been a year of achievements, of collective action, of resilience and of courage. In spite of the economic downturn that has stretched the AIDS response to its limits, millions of lives have been saved, as HIV treatment and prevention efforts continue to show results. World leaders have made new promises—bold, tangible and realistic. These promises now must be delivered in every country, in every community, and to every person in need.

I really appreciate the leadership of UNAIDS in calling countries to align their efforts to reach Zero New HIV infections, Zero AIDS related deaths, and Zero Stigma and discrimination associated to HIV by 2015. These seem to be ambitious targets – but I do believe that we can make them a reality.  

Dear colleagues, let me just comment on the aspect of treatment.  "Zero AIDS Related Deaths" signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for all to access HIV counseling and testing, and a strong call for zero tolerance on stigma and discrimination associated to HIV. It must be clear that the UN does not tolerate any form of stigma and discrimination associated to HIV infection.
Dear colleagues,
Today was a great day, and an important one in the framework of showing our support to the UN Plus program. In the presence of our colleague, the UN Plus global coordinator, we launched the UN Plus Association and Friends of UN Plus in Rwanda. This is very important and a good sign of implementing UN HIV work place programs. This is also a call for action to UN Heads of agencies to intensifying support to this important program.  

I thank the organizers of this session for the great job done – I thank you all for your participation and as said above – ambitious targets are important but also challenging – in terms of availing time, financial support and commitment. Hence I take this opportunity to reiterate UNCT commitment to support UN Cares activities and the UN Plus program in Rwanda.