Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mistakenly mentioned 2002, in fact only 202 HIV/AIDS cases reported in Timor Leste from 2003 to 2010, Minister Nelson.

Gabinete do Ministro
H.E. Dr. Nelson Martins

Minister of Health and President of the National AIDS
Commission of Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
The United Nations High Level Meeting on the
Comprehensive Review of the Progress Achieved in
Realizing the Declaration on HIV/AIDS
8-10 June 2011
New York, 8-10 June 2011

Honorable President of the General Assembly
Honorable Secretary General of the United Nations
Distinguished Executive Director of UNAIDS
Honorable Heads of States and Government Representatives
Representatives of International Organizations and of Civil Societies

Ladies and Gentleman,

It is an honor and a great privilege for me to stand among all of you here
during this important event, to represent my country both as Minister of
Health and as the President of the National Commission to combat HIVAIDS
in one of the youngest countries in the world. My President, His
Excellency Jose Ramos-Horta, regrets to miss such an important event
that is close to his heart due to other similarly important matters and has
kindly asked me to represent our country instead.

With just over a million populations, Timor-Leste became an
independent state in 2002. It is a country that has emerged from conflict
and faces the extremely difficult task of rebuilding the nation’s health
system with limited human capital and financial resources. This is
exacerbated further by the challenges of limited access to a basic
package of health services.

The National HIV-AIDS Program in Timor-Leste began its full
implementation in 2005 with the first National Strategic Plan developed
covering the period of 2006-2010. The National AIDS Commission was
established with the overall responsibility for oversight of the National
HIV/STI Strategic Plan. Significant funding did not come into the
program until the successful Round 5 Global Fund to Fight TB, Malaria
and HIV/AIDS proposal.


From 2003 through 2010, a total of 202 HIV positive cases were
confirmed, including 15 children under the age of 5. Most new cases
detected in 2010 were in the population age range of 25-44 years with
43% of women testing HIV positive, and an overall 46% HIV positive
rate for women. As of December 2010, there were 39 people on ART,
including 3 children. The role of our fellow country friends of Brazil in
donating Anti Retro Viral medicines to Timor-Leste to treat these
patients was crucial in the early years when first cases were identified in
Timor-Leste back in 2003. I sincerely would like to take this opportunity
to thank the Brazilian Government for their immediate response to
support our country during such important times. Attention to HIV/AIDS
was very limited and constrained resources were being directed towards
building the foundations of our newly independent state.
Although Timor-Leste remains a low prevalence country, it is
experiencing higher rates of HIV transmission then projected. There is
with less than 1% sero positive status among vulnerable populations,
through epidemiological modeling undertaken in 2005. Many of you may
find these numbers comparatively small, however, the high risk behavior
among the high risk population remains a challenge which require
immediate actions. Besides, Timor-Leste has a large majority of the
population being young, with 60% of youth below the age of 24. Almost
one third of the population (31.3%) is between the ages of 10 to 24
years and nearly 50% of the country’s population is either adolescent or
young. As a result, combined efforts, coupled by strong commitment
from the Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, were put in place to
developed a new 2011-2016 National HIV and STI Strategic Plan.

Ladies and Gentleman,
Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV-AIDS (PLHIV) is critical
to ethical and effective national response to the HIV epidemic. In Timor-
Leste, the HIV-AIDS Program extends beyond just treatment, care and
support to include prevention, legal and social justice issues, and any
aspect of activity in addressing the HIV epidemic. Collaborative efforts
from our President, the Parliamentary Women’s Working Group,
Government, Church Organizations, National Council of Youth, the
Military and the Policy force, and NGO Forum (“FONTIL”), have all be
the driving force towards combating the associated effects of HIV/AIDS
and controlling the spread of the virus in the country.
Indeed, a multy sectoral approach is needed to combat the spread of
HIV-AIDS and the new Strategic Plan pays significant attention to the
following priorities: establishing an enabling environment in which issues related to
HIV and STIs can be openly discussed through a coalition for
gender equality, sexual and reproductive health access to a basic service package including HIV and STI
knowledge through an Integrated Community Health Services
approach or SISCa targeted prevention programs for individuals with multiple partners
outside of the Most at Risk Group which include Men having Sex
with Men, Female Sex Workers, clients of Female Sex Workers
and people in the Uniformed Services scaling up prevention, treatment and care services in border
districts with Indonesia through cooperation mechanisms with the
Indonesian Ministry of Health ensuring universal coverage of life skills based sex education for young people achieving universal access to treatment for those who are infected
by increasing coverage of testing and counseling strengthening the capacity of the health system to respond to the increased need for HIV treatment services by continuing efforts to
assist with “bolsa da mae” or mother’s package, coordinating with
NGOs and the Ministry of Social Solidarity who are directly
working with patients and their families in establishing appropriate
links for continued care, prevention and financial assistance
 strengthening community sector systems to enhance quality of
service delivery, particularly in the most remote areas of the
country through the 507 SISCa Posts established across the country in every village

Ladies and Gentleman,

Timor-Leste fully supports the new agenda “towards zero new HIV
infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths”. As a
young country experiencing low prevalence rates of HIV-AIDS, I
challenge the international community to continue supporting young
countries like Timor-Leste to achieve this vision. Continued research
and increased financial commitment by government and donors is
essential to ensure sustained efforts to fight HIV.
Timor-Leste welcomes the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution
1983, which recognizes the HIV and AIDS epidemic as a threat to global
peace and security. It rightly acknowledges the need for sustainable
assistance to women living with or affected by HIV in conflict and postconflict
situations and the need to incorporate an HIV and AIDS focus into peacekeeping efforts. To combat the stigma around HIV and AIDS,
heads of peacekeeping forces in Timor-Leste and many of their troops
have volunteered to be tested for HIV as an example to those who still
dread public discourse about the disease. As the Security Council noted
in the Resolution, the disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS on
women presents persistent obstacles to gender equality and the
empowerment of women. We echo UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon’s
sentiment that efforts to combat HIV and AIDS must be linked to
campaigns against sexual violence and for the rights of women. The
perilous interactions among AIDS, the international drug trade, sex
trafficking and the abuse of women cannot be overlooked.
We must act together as one global nation in order to protect the lives of
our global people and future generations.
Thank you all very much.

Edificio dos Serviços Centrais do Ministério da Saúde, Rua de Caicoli, Caixa Postal 374, Dili, Timor- Leste
Telefone: 670 (390) 3322 467; Fax: 670 (390) 332 5189

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