Ambassador Van Vranken’s Speech During the BAIS V Launch Report

Thursday, August 17, 2023

As prepared for delivery

[Opening acknowledgements:]

  • Vice President, Hon. Slumber Tsogwane (Tsho-gwah-neh),
  • Minister of Presidential Affairs, Hon. Kabo (Kah-bo) Mowaeng (Mohrwah-eng)
  • Minister of Health , Dr. Edwin Dikoloti (Dee-koh-loh-tee)
  • Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Ms. Grace Muzila
  • NAHPA Coordinator, Mr. Ontiretse Letlhare
  • Health Development Partners present
  • Government Officials represented here
  • Ladies and gentlemen, All protocol observed.
    • It is indeed an honor to be here today. Thank you all. I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to be part of this historic occasion not only in
      Botswana’s history, but also the world’s history.
    • Botswana is living proof that even without a cure, through strategic partnerships, it is possible to overcome a pandemic.
    • This is a proud moment as we have come a long way from the first HIV/AIDS case in Francistown in 1985. Indeed, Botswana has been exemplary in recognizing that a country’s most valuable resource is a healthy population. Surpassing the UNAIDS 95-95-95 milestone by reaching 95-98-98 did not
      come easily. It has required for all hands to be on deck, demanding perseverance, dedication, and a strong will to never give up.
    • The progress made towards HIV epidemic control in Botswana is a testimony of the significance of government leadership, strategic partnerships, and commitment at all levels.
    • I particularly commend the Ministry of Health for your dedication to continuously expand services to reach the unreached.
    • The Treat All Campaign, which provides HIV services to non-citizens is one of the many great examples that have helped us reach this great milestone. The ministry’s commitment to bridge equity gaps is also reflected in the recent decision to expand Key Population services to public health facilities. I am also aware new efforts are being made to expand PrEP service points, as well as PrEP options. These are just a few of the many examples that have put Botswana on the world stage.
    • Botswana has proven that hard work pays off. The hard work and dedication of the team who provided us with the Fifth Botswana AIDS Impact Survey, or BAIS V, now provides us with the data to refine our in the strategic direction, as well as providing use with the confirmation of reaching epidemic control, an achievement we have long desired and was accomplished in less than 20 years.
    • Surpassing the 95-95-95 target is truly remarkable, as the BAIS V team had to overcome many unexpected challenges, primarily the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Even during COVID, Botswana displayed its resilience, as BAIS V teams continued to push through challenging environments and difficult circumstances, with the common goal of a brighter future for its people.
    • Today’s BAIS V final report also puts a stamp on the special relationship shared between the United States Government and Botswana as through
      PEPFAR.
    • As the country strives to scale new heights, the USG remains a proud partner in this journey. Through our interagency team, including CDC, USAID, Peace Corps, and the U.S. Department of State, we will continue to support the GoB to end HIV as a public health threat in Botswana.
    • We want to ensure that USG investments are in line with GoB priorities of closing existing gaps while sustaining the HIV response.
    • In the upcoming financial year, through PEPFAR, the USG has earmarked approximately $58 million to support HIV prevention, care, and treatment
      in Botswana.
    • The USG will continue to provide technical assistance through, among others, the mentorship program; and work with the Ministry of Health to strengthen health systems and resilience to tackle emerging challenges.
    • AIDS is no longer a death sentence and there is light at the end of the tunnel. An HIV/AIDS free generation is possible in this lifetime. It is so exciting to be part of a partnership that will make history.
    • All eyes are on Botswana, and I am confident you will continue to show the world how to achieve and maintain success.
    • Thank you once again.