About the Author: Donald E. Booth is the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia.
Yesterday, I joined His Excellency Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia's Minister of Health, to sign the "Five-Year Partnership Framework in Support of the Ethiopian National Response to HIV/AIDS 2010-2014 between the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the government of the United States." The Partnership Framework provides a five-year, joint strategic plan for cooperation among the government of Ethiopia, the U.S. government, and other stakeholders to support a strategic and collaborative response to HIV, while supporting health services for people living with HIV/AIDS. In doing so, it also contributes to the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) global goals for HIV prevention, care and treatment.
The Partnership Framework provides a statement of mutual intention to increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ethiopia. The partnership supports the government of Ethiopia's unique leadership role in coordinating and mainstreaming efforts among many sectors in response to HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. Central to the Partnership Framework are the goals of providing health and related social services for most-at-risk populations, as well as strengthening arrangements, such as the International Health Partnership (IHP+) and other multilateral and bilateral relationships.
Health diplomacy has been essential to building trust and improving relations between the United States and Ethiopia. PEPFAR is the largest health program in Ethiopia. Since 2004, the U.S. government has contributed over $1.3 billion through PEPFAR to support HIV prevention, care and treatment among infected and affected most-at-risk populations. Although Ethiopia's estimated HIV prevalence of 2.3 percent is lower than many other sub-Saharan countries, there are still more than 1.2 million people living with HIV in the country. Ethiopia has a low-level, generalized epidemic with significant differences between rates of HIV infection between urban and rural areas (7.7 percent and 0.9 percent respectively). Most-at-risk populations are the primary drivers of the epidemic.
The Partnership Framework illustrates the leadership of the government of Ethiopia in addressing its HIV epidemic, as well as its commitment to the broader health needs of its people. Ethiopia has doubled its budget for health over the last five years. Recognizing the importance of achieving sustainability, the U.S. government, through PEPFAR and the broader U.S. Global Health Initiative, will continue to support the government of Ethiopia's health priorities laid out in the Partnership Framework.