Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Today, 01 December 2017, the African Union joins the international community to commemorate the World AIDS Day. This Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the progress, challenges and opportunities in our fight against this terrible pandemic.

 This year’s Theme “My Health, My Right” reminds us that access to quality universal health care is not a luxury but a fundamental human right. And it is our collective duty to ensure that all citizens on the Continent lead healthy and fulfilling lives as enshrined in Agenda 2063, Africa’s development blueprint.

 As we commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day, it is encouraging to note that African countries have made significant strides in responding to this pandemic. Africa has met its AIDS targets set for 2015, while continuing to struggle for better results.

 Today in Africa, 12 million people have access to adequate treatment and 1.2 million new HIV infections among children have been averted since 2009. This was due to high level political commitment, scientific breakthroughs and unprecedented partnerships never seen before in the history of global health.

 Despite the recorded success, HIV still remains a huge threat for the continent’s broader health and development agenda. AIDS-related deaths are still very high, new HIV infections are not declining fast enough, the disease is having a disproportionate impact on young people, women and girls, stigma and discrimination still persists, health systems remain weak and resources are not adequate.

 Our Continent accounts for approximately two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections with major disparities between regions. It is in this context that in July 2017, AU Heads of State and Government endorsed the Emergency Catch up Plan to accelerate the HIV response in the regions that are lagging behind.

 For us to successfully realize the Aspirations of Agenda 2063, children in Africa must be born and stay HIV-free. We have to sustain the political commitment, increase domestic financing and continue to forge ahead with shared responsibility and global solidarity.

 For the socio-economic transformation of Africa, it is imperative that its most precious resource, the youth, remains on the continent. For that, it is our duty to do all it takes to empower them and to make sure that their most fundamental rights to education, health, skills and employment are met.

 Let us rally together, all stakeholders within the Continent, in the strive towards achieving by 2030, an Africa where all citizens have access to their fundamental right: a healthy and productive life.