Clinton at Reach Out Mbuya Health Center in Uganda
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
At Reach Out Mbuya Health Center
August 3, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good evening.
AUDIENCE: Good evening.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And Minister, thank you very much for those remarks. I am honored to be here. I am delighted to be back in Uganda and to be part of this exciting effort, the partnership between our two countries. I want to thank Dr. Ondoa for her hard work and for all that she is doing.
And Dr. Talisuna, thank you so much for your work. (Applause.)
So we have two women doctors who are leading the way on health in Uganda, and I am excited about being here, because I have heard for a long time about the work that Reach Out does. (Applause.) And Reach Out is well named, because what you have done is to be sure that people in the area have a place to come to be given support, to be given treatment, to be given dignity in order to achieve their own personal goals of being healthy and productive citizens.
Today, more than 300,000 Ugandans are receiving treatment through PEPFAR. PEPFAR is the program that the United States started under President George W. Bush. And I will be looking forward to be meeting with John Robert Engole who eight years ago was near death. He was the first person in the world to receive life-saving medication through PEPFAR. And now there are 300,000 Ugandans receiving medication through PEPFAR. And I want to do more to make sure that every person has the opportunity to become healthy.
And we have seen here at Reach Out and in other places across your country how this can be done. In the 1990s, thanks to your government, thanks to your officials, thanks to the citizens, we had the best program in the world right here in Uganda. (Applause.) And we saw how the prevalence of this disease could drop dramatically from nearly 20 percent to below 7 percent.
However, I am here because I am worried. In recent years, the focus on prevention has faded, and new infections are on the rise again. I had the opportunity to discuss this with the President and with the Minister. Uganda is now the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa where the rate of HIV is going up instead of going down. Now, I know that Ugandans, when you put your mind to something, can really get it done. So I’m hoping that together we can work on making prevention the focus again and making sure that rate of infection goes down, down, down.
So we’re going to work with you. I’ve made that pledge to the President and to the health minister. We’re going to review our strategy with the Ministry, with civil society groups, and other partners, because we want to emphasize what we think will work. And one area that I particularly care about as a mother is to eliminate mother-to-child transmissions of the virus. And we can do that, and our Government in the United States recently committed an additional $25 million. I hope I will come back in a few years, and there will be no babies in Uganda being born with the HIV Virus. (Applause.)
We are very proud, Minister, to be partnering with you and with the Ministry of Health. Experts from our Centers for Disease Control recently arrived in Uganda, because we not only work with you on HIV/AIDS; we’re also working with you now on the outbreak of the Ebola Virus. We want to work with you on maternal and child health. There is so much that we believe is possible here in Uganda.
Now, clinics like this, this wonderful program in this beautiful place needs resources, and all of us must keep up our funding commitments – the Government of Uganda, other donors like the United States, and I am looking forward to being able to work with you to do that. This clinic is a model not only for Uganda, but for all of Africa, indeed for the world. And I can see it has a lot of citizen and community support. And that’s what makes it work, and that’s what’s made Uganda unique in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
I want Uganda, once again, to be the model for the world, and I know Uganda can be. When I first came to Uganda in the mid-1990s when my husband was President, I came because there wasn’t anywhere else I could have gone in the world that was doing a better job. When I came back with my husband on his trip as President – and I don’t know if you remember, but when he was – as President in those years when he traveled across Africa and he came to Uganda, he met a little boy who had just been born, and they named him Bill Clinton. And so my husband was just back in Uganda a week ago, and he met Bill Clinton, who’s now about 12 years old. And he’s healthy, and he’s handsome, and he’s doing well in school. That’s what we want for every boy and girl in Uganda. We want a good future.
So let me close by saying that the American people are deeply proud to be your partners and your friends, and we’re going to keep working together on the economy, on better opportunities for people, as President Museveni said, on electricity, on infrastructure, on security, education, and health. And we have so much confidence that Uganda will, once again, be a model in HIV/AIDS, continue to develop, and make a difference for the people of this great and beautiful country. Thank you all, and God bless you. (Applause.)