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Speech by UNAIDS Country Director Ms. Marie-Odile Emond at the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee consultation meeting “Southern Elected Representatives with Healthcare and HIV Policy”

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Date: 27 September 2017

Event: National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee consultation meeting “Southern Elected Representatives with Healthcare and HIV Policy”  

Venue: Ho Chi Minh City

Mr. Dang Thuan Phong, Vice Chair-person of the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs,

Mr. Bui Ngoc Chuong, Standing Member, National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs,

Dr. Nguyen Hoang Long, Director General of Viet Nam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control,

Members of the National Assembly of Viet Nam,

Distinguished guests,

I am very honored to be with you here today, on behalf of UNAIDS, for this consultation on HIV and the draft project on “Protection and improvement of people’s health in the new situation".

Thanks to strong political commitment and leadership as well as huge investments and efforts in strong partnership by all stakeholders, including international partners, civil society and communities under the leadership of the Government in the last 20 years, Viet Nam has achieved impressive progress in HIV control. Those efforts in the HIV response have already paid off: thanks to prevention and effective treatment, between 2000 and 2016, we estimate that nearly half a million new HIV infections and nearly 150,000 AIDS-related deaths were averted in Viet Nam.

Almost half of all people living with HIV in Viet Nam are on HIV treatment allowing them to enjoy a longer and productive life and take care of their families.

However, this means that more than half of PLHIV who very much need HIV treatment do not get it. AIDS is not over yet. With still about 11,000 new HIV infections and 8,000 AIDS-related deaths every year, Viet Nam still faces a major public health threat: HIV is among the top infectious diseases with highest disease burden for the Vietnamese people. Though every new HIV infection is preventable and especially for mother to child transmission, every year a few hundred Vietnamese infants are born with HIV. Young people’s knowledge on HIV remains limited. The younger generation, whom Viet Nam’s future relies on, is still thus much at risk of HIV and progress could be reversed.

The HIV epidemic and response are uneven across the country and, the evidence shows, become more serious in certain areas and among some key populations.  This complex dynamic requires continued determination and a well-adapted response.

Government leaders have emphasized that no one should be left behind in Viet Nam as the country strives for social and economic development targets, placing people and social justice at the center. Investing in the HIV response will not only ensure that no one is left behind and at risk without access to HIV information and services, but will also enable more people living with HIV to be part of the national solutions, from the highest to the community level, towards ending AIDS.

A great example is Madame Pham Thi Hue, a woman living with HIV leading for many years, a positive life as a role model, inspiring and helping many other people living with HIV for the better including through counseling and support.

More than ever, Viet Nam needs to sustain strong political commitment and increase domestic investment including for qualified human resources for HIV prevention and quality treatment to maintain the hard-gained achievements and further scale up services, fast tracking the national HIV response toward ending AIDS by 2030.

Distinguished leaders and guests,

The stakes are high. Failure to renew political commitment to HIV and sufficiently invest in the HIV response in the existing  window of opportunity would imply significantly higher human and financial costs later as the virus will spread further and drug resistance would increase putting at risk Viet Nam’s chance to fully control the epidemic. Several Asian countries and, especially cities, have seen a rebound of new HIV infections.

You can choose the right path and it is actually a good investment. Indeed, the HIV Investment Case developed by the Government in collaboration with development partners and civil society pointed out that for each dollar of efficient investment in HIV today, Viet Nam will gain at least 8 dollars in return and be able to end AIDS as a public health threat for the Vietnamese people by 2030.

Invest now in the right interventions at the right locations for the right populations will help Viet Nam do more with less and we have now better data than ever to do so.

Though we will continue to support Viet Nam to mobilize external support, in the context of fast reduction of donor funding for HIV due to Viet Nam’s strong economic development, and with a view to further ensure the sustainability of the HIV response, towards the Sustainable Development Goals on ending AIDS and ending poverty, HIV should be integrated in the national and provincial socio-economic development plans.  This is a shared responsibility for both the central and provincial governments.

I believe that with the strong leadership of the National Committee on AIDS, your  strong support as people’s elected representatives, with the available innovations in the HIV science and the partnerships of community-based and social organizations and development partners, Viet Nam will be able to turn into reality its commitment to the 90-90-90 targets -- 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV receiving HIV treatment and 90% of people receiving HIV treatment having viral load suppression. This is the path towards ending AIDS by 2030, the commitment Viet Nam and all other UN Member States made in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS in 2016.

UNAIDS together with other UN agencies and development partners continues to spare no efforts to support Viet Nam’s fast track efforts towards its national targets and ending AIDS, placing people at the centre of all development policies.

The stakes are high but so are the opportunities. As Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, Chair of the National Committee has said, “Let’s us all make 100-100-100 percent commitment in order to achieve the 90-90-90 targets”, toward ending AIDS in Viet Nam by 2030!

Thank you very much and chuc suc khoe!