Mbabane: The Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Themba Masuku says the year 2020 has been a bitter-sweet year for the Kingdom of Eswatini; bitter because of the advent of COVID-19; and sweet because Eswatini singularly made a spectacular achievement of reaching and surpassing the set global targets of 95-95-95.
The DPM was speaking at the commemoration of World Aids Day in Manzini. Masuku said The 95-95-95 treatment cascade means that, of the estimated 200,000 People Living with HIV in Eswatini, over 95% know their status, over 95% of those who know their status are on life saving treatment and over 95% of those on treatment are virally suppressed. These impressive and spectacular achievements are a result of resolute efforts by Government and our partners.
Masuku said UNAIDS reports Eswatini to be the only country in the world to have managed this outstanding achievement. He said what is even more impressive is that it is two years ahead of the country’s own target of 2022 as announced by His Majesty King Mswati III in February 2015.
Masuku recognized the astute leadership of His Majesty King Mswati III who has steered the country’s ship with tact and wise precision as it’s navigated through these rough tides of HIV and AIDS.
He further congratulated Eswatini and all key partners who have played a major role and contributed to this massive achievement in such a record period. Indeed, no one stakeholder could have amassed the required resources to achieve such impressive results. Eswatini will remain ambitious and tirelessly work towards ensuring that we reach the 100 percent mark by ensuring that all persons living with HIV are enrolled on life saving treatment early.
Masuku said Eswatini surely come a long way since the first HIV and AIDS case was discovered in 1986. Since then, Eswatini has put forward a formidable response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Some the responses included the formulation of the Swaziland National AIDS Programme (SNAP); the establishment of the Crisis Management Technical Committee (CMTCT) in 1999 and the subsequent development of the first multi-sectorial strategic plan on HIV and AIDS 2000-2005.
In 2001, His Majesty’s Government established NERCHA to lead, coordinate and facilitate the national multi-sectoral response to the epidemic. UNAIDS led the process of assisting the country develop the HIV Investment Case in 2016; which defined the key five programmes that would turn the tide in the HIV response. These included: the rollout of Antiretroviral Treatment, prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, prevention targeting adolescent girls and young women and their partners as well as managing TB/HIV Coinfection.
United States of America Ambassador Lisa Peterson recognised the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini for its unwavering commitment to control its HIV epidemic even in the face of COVID-19. Peterson said this commitment has allowed the country to far exceed this year’s global 90-90-90 goals.