By BOSORINA ROBBY
THE United States has renewed its support and commitment in partnering with Papua New Guinea to build the national HIV/AIDS response for the next five years, Ambassador Teddy Taylor said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the World AIDS Day commemorative event in Port Moresby, Mr Taylor said seeing first hand the importance of country ownership, the US would continue to work with all sectors of PNG as programmes and strategies were crafted to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.
He said, however, that for leadership to make universal access become a reality and end the epidemic, obstacles that threaten the success of future HIV prevention, treatment and care efforts needed to be overcome.
Mr Taylor said it was a nation’s duty to give special emphasis and resources to all the branches of Government and civil society, NGOs and church-based organisations working in the areas of awareness, research and education.
According to the Health Department, PNG is expected to have an increase of 75,000 new cases as it is spreading into the rural areas.
Mr Taylor said this was alarming because rural areas lacked access to health care services and this was the challenge the Government and its partners were facing.
He commended those leaders and organisations that were doing their best to slow down the infection rate and to those people living with the virus who have come out to share their experiences and give a human face to the epidemic.
“This openness gives us a glimpse at the many challenges they face daily,” Mr Taylor said.
He said through president Barrack Obama’s global health initiative, the president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) would continue to support PNG’s work to further integrate and expand access to other health services like TB, malaria, maternal and child health, family planning and HIV/AIDS.
He also said it needed to be understood that HIV was no longer a health issue, but one that had clear links to economic situations and poverty levels, which calls for work to include human rights issues as these drive the spread of the virus.
Mr Taylor said through all these, PNG would get more health care and that the health systems would be strengthened for the future.