Former President Attends High Level Meeting On HIV/AIDS
FORMER PRESIDENT ATTENDS HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON HIV/AIDS
Fiji’s former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau attended the United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in New York from 8 to 10 June. The former President was invited in his capacity as the UN AIDS Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS in the Pacific and in recognition of his longstanding advocacy against the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Fiji and the Pacific Islands region.
Ratu Epeli co-chaired the opening session with HE Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana on 8th June, 2016. The opening session focussed on addressing ‘AIDS Within the Sustainable Development Goals; leveraging the end of AIDS for social transformation and sustainable development.
In his opening remarks at the session, Ratu Epeli urged the participants to seize the historic opportunity presented by 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to use the AIDS response as a pathfinder for social transformation and greater social justice.
He told the meeting this must be done in the cause of greater inclusion and in respect for the dignity of the human person.
“I am proud that Fiji has been proactive in ensuring that its laws and policies promote inclusion. We have decriminalized same-sex relations; removed barriers for adolescents to access HIV services; and lifted travel restrictions affecting people living with HIV. All these initiatives pave the way towards a more inclusive society.”
A political declaration was adopted as the main outcome of the High Level Meeting. The declaration includes a set of specific time-bound targets (2020, 2030) that are to be implemented and achieved in the framework of the 2030 Agenda.
At the closing plenary of the High-level Meeting on 10 June in the UN General Assembly, Ratu Epeli presented the summary of the discussions from the session he had co-chaired. He stressed that, “while the HIV response is about people, we clearly need strong data and comprehensive strategic information”.
He underscored the importance of working together to address the AIDS pandemic and highlighted the urgency to fast-track the response in order to reach the ambitious vision set out in the 2030 Agenda of an inclusive world with social justice for all.
Also in attendance at the High Level Meeting were Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services permanent secretary, Dr Meciusela Tuicakau and CEO of the HIV/AIDS Board Mrs Sereima Vatuvatu.
The Fijian delegation was supported by the diplomatic staff of the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations.