The ESCAP Resolutions 66/10 and 67/9 call upon all of us, governments, civil society and international partners, in this region with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the West to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the East, and from the Russian Federation in the North to New Zealand in the South, home to more than 4 billion people, two-thirds of the world’s population, to take action to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. This call will now be amplified by Nepal’s voice calling to “Ending AIDS, by 2030.”Nepal, inspired by the United Nations Secretary General’s synthesis report “The Road to Dignity by 2030,” reaffirms to build and sustain critical programmatic and social enablers for success.
The ESCAP resolutions include actions to address prejudice and discrimination, and treating “universal access” as a human right. For Nepal, ending AIDS is not just a political statement, it isabout an achievable goal;sharing responsibility, collective accountability,and safeguarding regional solidarity.
In this room, we are part of history;hopefully stories of success we can tell to our children and their children, backed-up by science, evidence and common-sense.
The Resolutions call upon the ESCAP members and associate members to improve financial sustainability, by allocating a greater proportion of national resources to HIV, and to improve programmatic effectiveness, by investing in high-impact activities for key populations. Nepal, through its HIV Investment Plan 2014 to 2016 has answered these calls.
This “Nepal HIV Investment Plan” directs Government, civil society, national institutions and our international partners to achieve results, by prioritising strategic, evidence-informed, and innovative approaches to keep people healthy, and avert new HIV infections. It is an on-going dialogue within the country, working with partners across sectors, to implement game changers, where partners are not just partners; they own their initiatives.
Nepal drives a National “test, treat and retain” Programme, to drastically scale-up HIV testing, and providing anti-retroviral treatment, with a special focus on key populations. This means HIV testing and treatment services will be brought closer to the people who need these services, by establishing strategic public-private partnerships between the Government of Nepal and communities, through community-initiated HIV testing. The aim is to leave no one behind! “Fast track. Not back track!”
Nepal is now on a trajectory towards the elimination of vertical HIV transmission, ‘eVT,’ so no child will be born with HIV in Nepal, and that mothers, irrespective of where they live, or what social or geographical barriers they face, will be kept alive and well.
Investments to ending AIDS in Nepal are focused, primarily, on key populations in cities and sub-national geographical areas with the highest HIV burden, and where HIV transmission is more likely to take place. These include activities that uphold zero tolerance for prejudice against key populations. Nepal prides itself as being the first country in the world to have accounted for an “other” gender in its national population census, and the first country in South Asia to have issued citizenship documents with a third gender option.
Nepal’s investments in HIV also include the scaling up of Opioid Substitution Therapy and clean needle-and-syringe, and treatment retention programmes, led by a team of national programme experts and expert communities of people who inject drugs. Nepal’s training curriculum for law enforcement personnel includes acquiring knowledge and skills towards better working with and for all key populations.
The just completed assessment of the legal environment, in which Nepal’s response to HIV operates, strongly recommends anti-discriminatory and protective legal provisions; especially for the key populations prioritized in the Nepal HIV Investment Plan. The current amendment and enactment process of Nepal’s Criminal Code and Civil Code offers a timely opportunity to include these recommendations. Moreover, Nepal has a “National Human Rights Action Plan” that will endorse these recommendations, based on human rights and ratified international conventions.
Nepal’s success in reducing the number of new HIV infections is being applauded regionally and globally. We now have to look ahead. For this, Nepal’s “HIV Vision 2020” is clear: By 2020, 90 percent of our people living with HIV will be tested and will have their test results; 90 percent of those who test positive will be on treatment and stay on treatment; and 90 percent of those on treatment will have a viral load suppression so they are healthy and well, and will less likely transmit HIV to others. We cannot accomplish this alone. We need strategic partnerships in the region and beyond. We need regional cooperation, for instance to address migration and other mobility issues between our countries. Nepal, therefore, fully endorses the proposed “Regional Framework for actions on HIV, beyond 2015,” towards ending AIDS, by 2030.