by Lavinia Crawford-Browne

US partnership saves lives

US President Obama strengthens his commitment to SA

US partnership save lives
US President Obama strengthens his commitment to SA

President Obama paid a visit to the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Masiphumelele in the South Peninsula where he heard first-hand the impact of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) from South Africans who have been affected by HIV and AIDS.  

PEPFAR was established by President George W Bush in 2003 in response to the global HIV epidemic, the initial allocation was roughly R148billion ($15 billion) globally to combat HIV AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is one of many organisations in South Africa that has benefitted from this fund.   

Patron of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF), Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu welcomed President Obama, who was accompanied by Ambassador Eric Goosby, MD US Global AIDS Coordinator, the Minister of Health, as well as Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

The President was given a brief tour of the youth centre, including the computer lab and the HealthZone, the reproductive health facility for youth. He took the time to meet with some of the young people who attend the centre.  Five other non-profit organisations that have benefitted from PEPFAR funding were invited to a discussion which took place after the tour.  

“We welcome this opportunity to thank the people of the United States of America for their compassionate and generous response to a global epidemic from which South Africa has suffered greatly,” said Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, Deputy-director of the DTHC and Chief Operating Officer of the DTHF.   

A plaque expressing gratitude to the American people for their commitment to those living with or affected by HIV was given by the DTHF to President Obama. The plaque is inscribed with a poem written by Fezeka Gxwayibeni, a young women from Masiphumelele who was a member of the Future Fighters, the adolescent Community Advisory Board who are trained by the DTHF to be educators on HIV research in the community.  Fezeka has been an outstanding HIV ambassador and is now studying in Grahamstown.

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