Remarks by Ambassador Palmer on Global Fund Grant

Lilongwe, November 9, 2017.

I’m very pleased to be able to express my goodwill publicly.  Thank you.  The United States is very proud to have provided roughly one third of the more than $1 billion (731 billion Malawi Kwacha) the Global Fund has invested in Malawi.  As I said at the last grant signing, the Global Fund, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Ministry of Health are mafuwa – the stones around the cooking fire, each essential for balance and success.

Everywhere I go, I talk about Malawi’s leadership in instituting Option B+ and Test and Start – game changers in the fight against HIV. With funding from this grant, Malawi will be the first country to offer lifelong Isoniazid Preventive Therapy to keep people with HIV from contracting TB – setting the standard for active TB prevention.

I’m proud that Global Fund-procured drugs also mean that:

  • nearly 715,000 Malawians are receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy
  • close to 8 million insecticide-treated nets have been distributed, resulting in a significant reduction in malaria prevalence;
  • and, in the last year alone, over 17,000 TB patients were diagnosed and put on treatment.

These numbers represent Malawian lives saved – children born well – with mothers alive to care for them; fathers, brothers, cousins – Malawians able to contribute to Malawi’s development and prosperity.

To ensure that Malawians continue to have access to these life-saving interventions, we need to use funds efficiently and effectively. I can’t stress this enough.  The Ministry of Health’s Drug Theft Unit is doing great work, but we all need to play our part:  Report theft and misappropriation of drugs and money.  And don’t just suspend or transfer the perpetrators – bring them to justice.  Real accountability is as important to Malawi’s development as these lifesaving programs.

I applaud Honorable Minister Muluzi’s leadership in invigorating HIV prevention programs and I look forward to working with our Malawian health colleagues to strengthen the five pillars of prevention. This grant will ensure availability of condoms, and expand the reach of voluntary male medical circumcision, services to key populations, and combination prevention methods for adolescent girls and young women.

I’m thrilled that Malawi has secured an additional $7M for adolescent girls and young women in this grant.  This means the Global Fund will provide $19 million over the next three years to promote the health of adolescent girls and young women – a group which is the fulcrum for all of Malawi’s health and development goals.  Malawi is one of the first countries in the world to have an AGYW Strategy to ensure girls get a better education, avoid contracting HIV, and have brighter futures. I challenge you to be bold and prioritize clearly and pledge our support.

For malaria, the Global Fund’s purchase of bed nets for the 2018 mass distribution campaign – universal coverage with bed nets can prevent over one million cases of malaria – imagine the effect that will have on  Malawian productivity and economic growth.

I’ll conclude by noting that Malawi has another opportunity to showcase its leadership to the world.  Working with the Ministry of Health, PEPFAR, the Global Fund and all of the partners here today, Malawi can accelerate epidemic control and become one of the first countries to reach the UN’s 90-90-90 targets for HIV epidemic control by 2020!  Getting there faster – using methods like Voluntary Assisted Partner Notification proven effective in other countries around the world – will result in enormous savings to Malawi because high treatment coverage means fewer new infections, and fewer new infections straining the health care system. I know Malawi can do it!

Zikomo kwambiri.