|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
Pretoria, South Africa, December 8, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you for all the work that you've been doing with your wife, Gayle. We are very close friends from a long time ago, having worked in Washington D.C. together and I know what a fabulous team they are. So, thank you very much. It is a real pleasure to be here.
I think this is one of the really truly great institutions because it is dealing with what is clearly one of the most horrible events of our lifetime, which is the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and I think we are all more and more recognizing the fact that this disease knows no boundaries, knows no particular peoples. It is just an equality killer. It doesn't matter who. I think what is so important is that finally the world is truly paying attention to the disease in a way it needs to. Unfortunately there is a lot more that needs to be done and a lot more money that needs to go into it. I think this is a very special center and this is one of 11 international sites that has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for prevention and research projects. The reason that I wanted to come here is not only to see the magnificent work that takes place here, and really have a chance to say hello to the women and hold those beautiful babies, but to make clear that this is something that benefits both our countries, not only by what we are able to do, but also the research that is able to come out of this. I think that is very, very important.
I think that we have to do everything we can to mobilize ourselves to deal with the threat. What I think is important in terms of what President Clinton and Vice President Gore have done is to really recognize the fact that not only is HIV/AIDS a terrible health issue, but to a great extent a very important security issue, and the reason to put it in those terms is that unfortunately often in our countries, people don't understand how important an issue is unless you say it is a national security issue. That gets peoples' attention and when you basically say that more people have died from HIV/AIDS than have died in the wars, it is really kind of a significant statement of fact to make people understand the horror of it.
This year at the United Nations and the Security Council -- the Security Council the way that the UN is set up is supposed to only deal with security issues, and by having it discussed in the Security Council meeting I think that already elevated it. I think we have obviously there's been progress made in terms of some of the medicines and I was very interested in hearing about the prenatal care and the aspects of it.
I just salute everybody's involvement in it and thank you all very much. We are going to continue to fight AIDS wherever we can. This is not just a disease that is African, it is a disease in the United States and in Asia and in Europe and I think that that's the part that has to be made very clear. This is not a continent disease or a nation disease. It's a global disease and we have to deal with it.
Now I want to say that on top of the substantial assistance last year, USAID plans to provide up to $8.5 million in the next year to battle HIV/AIDS and of that $1.86 million, that is 13.5 million Rand will be provided in a grant to the Paranatal HIV/AIDS unit, so I hope that that will be of some help. We have also been working with Congress to locate the resources to do more, and USAID will provide at least an additional $40 million in the next five years to South Africa's efforts and primarily on programs to increase awareness. This kind of a program, I think, not only deals with the people directly, and I had a chance to see that, but also the very existence of a program like this makes people understand the value and the importance of dealing with the issue and the news about it, I think, multiplies the effect of what it is that you do here. You all, just the short time, I can see the importance of the work that you do, but your kindness and compassion in dealing with this, and your interest, your beautiful mural and the people who, even with terrible disease, come in here and they seem to have a spirit that is uplifting. So it is uplifting to all of us to be able to come here and share with you.
Thank you very much for sharing the experience with us.
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