Intervention on agenda item 3 –
Delivered by Obatunde Oladapo, Africa NGO Delegate
The great son of Africa and icon of the emancipation of all oppressed people, Madiba Nelson Mandela once said, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
We wish to use this opportunity to appreciate the leadership of Michel Sidibe and the Joint Programme towards ensuring that no one is left behind in our efforts to end AIDS.
As representatives of civil society and affected communities, we are compelled by a high sense of duty and therefore refuse to be cowed into submission in the face of efforts to turn the tide against and eradicate AIDS in Africa and the world at large.
We wish to declare that the NGO Delegation supports and appreciates UNAIDS not only in providing technical support but also in advocating for what moves us most quickly along the road towards ending AIDS as a public health threat.
Our communities have resolved to stand together in our common resolve to stand together and not accept a divisive approach to addressing the AIDS epidemic ravaging our women, men, youths and children. We refuse to be drawn into conflicts between key affected populations, vulnerable groups or communities, fragile communities/nations and would rather focus on ensuring access to services for all people irrespective of labels or categorization and regardless of the ability to pay.
Our collective insistence on rights to access to services by all irrespective of their age, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, social and economic status cannot be overshadowed by controversies bordering on national sovereignty versus supposedly foreign ideas.
We are struggling with challenges arising from donor fatigue in the face of dwindling resources and we cannot accept the notion that any key population group is overfunded or that there should be a debate on “AIDS versus Health funding”. We take our stand based on a host of overwhelming evidence that focusing on key populations and other vulnerable communities move us more quickly along the road to ending AIDS as a public health threat.
Today, we make bold to ask everyone present here the big questions:
• Do we want to end AIDS as a public health threat or not?
• Do we want our girls and women to continue suffering inferiority when compared to their male counterparts due to no fault of theirs but the accident of their gender?
• Should any African man, woman or youth be denied the right to live a meaningful, fulfilled and healthy life?
Finally, we wish to urge everyone here present to stand on the right side of history. We wish to reiterate our support for UNAIDS in respect of every evidence-based policy, practice, principle and program to achieve the 90-90-90 targets.
We are all in it together!
Before I go, let me quote another great son of Africa, Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka who said that “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.”