|© UNICEF/ HQ05-1509/Markisz|
|First Lady of Rwanda Jeannette Kagame speaks at the launch of the Global Campaign on Children and AIDS, at UNHQ.|
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you Sir Roger Moore for your very kind introduction.
It is with mixed feelings that I have come to this launch. On one hand I have hope when I hear “Global Campaign” but at the same time, I am also sad and ashamed, on behalf of all adults, to learn that after two decades and a half, and only ten years away from the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals - children are not sufficiently mainstreamed in the response to HIV/AIDS.
How do we reconcile the tragedy of giving life only to lose it needlessly? How else do we expect these dependant beings to survive in an adult world? Fortunately, the world is also populated by individuals such as you, who have come together to rally behind this Global Campaign for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
I am proud to be here as an African mother, a member of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS. We are determined to give this disease a compassionate mother’s face. Through our campaign, “Treat Every Child As Your Own”, we are working together to help reach the goal of “No New Infections Among the Youth of Africa.”
The Global Campaign is an urgent call to action to reverse and halt the destruction caused every day by HIV/AIDS. Most especially, the destruction it rains upon children and young people. As much as anything, this is a campaign about partnerships, about pulling together our resources, our skills and our political will. For the latter, the role of governments is crucial. Governments, both those presently affected and those who have successfully banished the disease from their shores, must commit themselves to this campaign.
Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen:
All member states of the United Nations have made promises to reach the MDGs, one of which calls for specific measures and targets on HIV/AIDS. This campaign is a reminder of those promises and a notice that failure to achieve this goal impacts on our achievements to reach other goals.
Primary health care services in poor countries were already struggling to cope, even before the appearance of HIV/AIDS. We must not allow them to crumble under the burden of the epidemic. Rather, we must use this opportunity to re-build and focus our considerable energies, skills and potential resources on the most affected in our communities.
Governments and non-government partners of affected countries will need to renew their commitment to young people affected by the epidemic, by ensuring that efforts to care appropriately for children continue and intensify.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has been with us for 25 years. We have been slow to act and what we have done has not been enough…. The disease will not wait for us to catch up. It will carry on wreaking havoc across the globe.
This campaign is an alarm bell.
I ask all those present today, and all those listening at campaign launches around the world, to commit themselves to ensuring that the next generation of children is HIV-free.
Most of all, I call on all organisations and individuals working to end the AIDS epidemic, to immediately put children at the top of their HIV/AIDS agendas and keep them there until such a day when we can truthfully say that we are winning the fight and reversing tide.
Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have no doubt that as we are gathered here:
We must UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS.
Dear friends, we know what it takes. By 2015, we want to confidently say: We have given humanity back its dignity.