UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé congratulated the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré for his personal engagement in his country’s AIDS response during a meeting held on 20 December in the country’s capital of Ouagadougou. New HIV infections in Burkina Faso have dropped by 60% in the past ten years.
“You are a model of good governance and a promoter of peace on the continent,” said Mr Sidibé. “You have invested in the AIDS response. You have shown that when there is strong leadership change is possible.”
The number of people living with HIV who are receiving life-saving treatment have increased significantly. The Burkina Faso Health Ministry’s latest figures show HIV treatment coverage increased by 19% between 2010 and 2012, reaching 60% of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy.
“Burkina Faso has produced remarkable results in its treatment coverage. Making antiretroviral treatment free in 2011 not only symbolizes President Compaoré’s commitment to social justice but is extremely effective,” said Mr. Sidibé.
President Compaoré is also committed to reducing his country’s dependence on external funding and he has taken the initiative by expanding the share of domestic resources allocated to the HIV response from 15% to 25%.
“From the beginning of the epidemic, we considered AIDS was not only a public health problem but a major threat to development and social stability,” said the President of Burkina Faso. “AIDS is threatening the most important resource for development, which is people.”
Earlier in the week, Mr Sidibé had also met with Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, Professor Adama Traoré and discussed challenges including stopping new HIV infections among children and the country’s reliance on external funding.
Minister Adama Traoré stressed his country’s commitment to the AIDS response and said that his country’s financial resources are limited and they must be used in the best way in order to get results as human lives are at stake.
In a meeting with Minister of Justice Salamata Sawadogo, Mr Sidibé underlined the progress the country has made and the challenges around the criminalisation and stigmatisation of key populations at higher risk and HIV prevention, treatment and care for prisoners. Minister Sawadogo said she is focused on human rights including the rights of people in prison.
Mr Sidibé will wrap up his four-day visit to Burkina Faso on 21 December.