Conversations with the Foundation's Country Directors: Tanzania
June 8, 2010
Mama Kikwete addresses visitors during a
March 2007 visit to Kitere Health Centre in
Tanzania. (Photo: Sala Lewis)
Tanzania is a great example of what is possible in the fight against HIV/AIDS when there is high-level political commitment to address the pandemic, particularly its effects on women and children.
In 2003, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania was dire. Of the more than 4,000 healthcare facilities throughout the nation, only a small percentage offered any sort of HIV/AIDS services— including prevention of mother-to-child transmission, or care and treatment for those already living with the virus.
Today, just seven years later, there is a drastically different scenario.
The leadership of the Tanzanian government and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has encouraged the dramatic scale-up of services to help HIV-positive pregnant women deliver HIV-negative babies, and to help people living with HIV lead long and healthy lives. Particularly important has been the commitment of President Jakaya Kikwete and First Lady Mama Salma Kikwete. In July of 2007, they launched a massive voluntary HIV testing campaign, speaking out against stigma that often goes with the virus. The president and first lady were the first to be tested as part of the campaign.
Since 2003, the Foundation has been proud to be an active partner with Tanzania, USAID, CDC, and other donors to help bring HIV services to more children, women and families. Dr. Anja Giphart, Vice President of Program Implementation and former Country Director for Tanzania, took a moment in March to reflect upon the country’s successes:
Tanzania from EGPAF on Vimeo.
The Foundation has focused on expanding PMTCT services, improving HIV care and treatment, reducing stigma and increasing awareness, and working to strengthen the overall national health system. We are now providing PMTCT services in 966 sites, and care and treatment services in 165 sites in six regions across the country.
There is still a lot of work to do. Of the 41 million people living in Tanzania, an estimated 1.4 million are living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. Approximately 140,000 of these are children under the age of 15.
Yet we’re making a difference, cumulatively reaching more than a million women and children as we improve individuals’ lives
, working “haba na haba” as the saying goes in Swahili, or “step by step.”
Robert Yule is the Media Manager for the Foundation based in Washington, D.C.