Rome — Mozambique’s first lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, declared in Rome on Friday that achieving universal access to anti-retroviral treatment for HIV-positive people is on the list of priorities for the Mozambican government.
To achieve this goal, she added, the major challenges are to increase the number of health professionals, expand coverage and raise the quality of treatment, as well as ensuring equity in access in both rural and urban area.
Maria Guebuza was speaking at the opening session of the seventh international conference on HIV and AIDS organised by the Italian NGO, the Sant’Egidio community, as part of its DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement against Aids and Malnutrition) initiative. The conference brings together health ministers from across Africa to discuss "Universal Access to Treatment: the Decisive Step for Defeating AIDS".
Guebuza, who is the guest of honour at the conference, stressed the need to find appropriate language in transmitting messages about the danger of AIDS. This was a challenge not only for the Ministry of Health, she said, but for all citizens.
That, she added, was the main reason she had accepted the invitation to speak in Rome – she promised to be the spokesperson for all those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in Mozambique. Currently the HIV prevalence rate in Mozambique is estimated at 11.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 49.
Guebuza praised the achievements of the DREAM programme in Mozambique, which was the country where the Sant’Egidio Community launched the initiative. Today DREAM is installed in 10 African countries and is assisting 150,000 people with highly encouraging results.
Guebuza said that over the past ten years DREAM has been particularly valuable in preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child, and in treating children born HIV-positive. The support from DREAM has benefitted thousands of mothers and children in each of the countries where it is implemented.
In addition to the First Lady, Mozambique is represented at the conference by Deputy Health Minister Nazira Abdula.