48th PCB - Intervention by Jonathan Gunthorp - Agenda item 2: Leadership in the AIDS Response

Delivered by Jonathan Gunthorp, Africa, on behalf of the NGO Delegation

*The invited speaker was Dr. John Nkengasong, MSc, PhD, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thank you, Chair.

Doctor, I want to thank you for your presentation. We are very grateful for your leadership at this time. And grateful too for the timeous establishment of the Africa CDC, just before this crisis which none of us could have foreseen. We could not have imagined when we created a CDC for the Continent, how essential it would be at this time.

I speak on behalf of the entire NGO Delegation, but I speak as an African, and I speak from South Africa, currently under the onslaught of the third wave, which has broken over us in terrible ways. More sadly, I speak today as a neighbour of Namibia, devastated by the tragedy of this COVID wave.

We knew at the beginning of COVID that vaccine supplies were going to be bad for the developing world and for Africa and that the North would be selfish. We had no idea how just bad, and just how selfish the North would prove to be.

Doctor, we appreciate speaking and talking about the role of communities now in COVID, and your solidarity with them and with us. We agree with the US intervention recognizing the comparison you made with the beginnings of the HIV epidemic, and the current issues in the COVID pandemic – and particularly your recognition of the role and centrality of communities in the respective responses.

We in communities, feel COVID the most closely of anyone in this room. We care for those who are sick and unable to get to hospitals. We bury the dead, and we care for those left behind when they are gone. We do this sometimes alongside our governments, and sometimes despite them. We collect & report data on COVID as we do on HIV, sometimes in agreement with our governments, but often in disagreement of their data and reporting.

We look forward, as communities, to working closely with yourself and the Africa CDC, not just on COVID and on HIV, but on all of the disease and illness burdens you spoke to and that our continent needs to overcome.

Again our appreciation for your work, Doctor. Good Luck for the long-haul ahead, and stay safe.

Thank You Chair.


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