|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Clinic
Old Naledi Neighborhood
December 11, 2000, Gaborone, Botswana
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Minister Phumaphi for that very generous statement of yours and for hosting us today. I am pleased to be in the company of so many public health experts-and so many dedicated caregivers.
I also want to thank Mayoress for her warm hospitality today. She is a wonderful example of what we can all accomplish when we confront life's most daunting challenges with courage. Her son reminds us that MTCT treatments are saving lives every day. And both are an inspiration, as we continue to support the Government of Botswana's efforts to fight this dreadful disease.
I would like to say how deeply moved I was at the small gathering I just attended where it was evident how important it was for the women to come forward and be tested for the health of their children. I was very moved by the statements made and by the reactions. Under the exemplary and highly committed leadership of President Mogae, Minister Phumaphi and others, Botswana is fighting the "War on HIV/AIDS" across many fronts.
As many of you know, the objectives of the government effort are twofold: First, to provide effective treatment and care to those whose lives have been affected by the disease-including orphans and those infected-and second, but no less important, to prevent new infections, especially among youth.
Clinics such as this one are critical to the government's efforts. By focusing on the infants of HIV-infected mothers, they treat the youngest victims of the disease.
By providing space that hospitals lack for counseling, they address an urgent need. They enable HIV-positive mothers to gather the information they require to protect their babies from infection, and to give their children the opportunity to lead long, healthy lives.
We hope that our support does in fact reinforce the message that the people and government of Botswana are not alone in waging this war.
To fight this deadly pandemic requires national, bilateral, multilateral, and global programs and strategies. During the year 2000, the United States has contributed more than $310 million to international efforts on HIV/AIDS. This year, we hope that our contribution will exceed $400 million.
Last year, my government, through the Centers for Disease Control, contributed almost $5 million to support Botswana's efforts. This year, our commitment will not falter. We will contribute at least that much-again.
I am here today, to celebrate our most recent contribution. As the Minister mentioned, in a moment, I will present her with keys to the center's new MTCT counseling caravan. This was made possible by a contribution of the U.S. Department of Defense through its Humanitarian Assistance Fund. I salute our colleagues in uniform and thank them for being here today.
We will also present televideo units which the CDC is providing to more than 200 MTCT clinics throughout Botswana. These units will go in an additional 200 caravans, donated by CDC, to play the excellent counseling video we just viewed together. I thought that was a most impressive video and I am very glad we are able to provide the means for spreading that word.
Before we proceed, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to demonstrate our support and commitment. Seeing the faces of young mothers, and watching them receive the information they need, is a poignant reminder of what we can do by working together.
With sustained collaboration and commitment, there may be no limit to what we can accomplish together. And so I thank you very much.
As a mother and a grandmother, I must say I feel a special love and friendship with all of you because I can understand how difficult this all is. There is nothing more personal than having a child, and nothing that provides you more pleasure and love, and yet you have to go through what is clearly a very difficult and important moment in deciding to be tested in order to save the life of that child, and learn something about yourself. So my heart goes out to you, I admire you all and I am so, so glad that in some small way the United State is able to help all of you.
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