Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at the Launch of a Campaign to Save Lives in Cross River State

Remarks of the U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders at the
Launch of a Campaign to Save Lives in Cross River State

December 11, 2008
Abuja, Nigeria

All protocols duly observed.

This is my second trip to Calabar and to Cross River State, the land of peace and tourism. Today, I am here for the children because they are the future of Nigeria. It is critical that we all support children's health issues, and certainly preventable ones like measles, polio and malaria. This flag off ceremony of the Integrated Measles Campaign is just one step in achieving the elimination of all preventative childhood diseases.

This Campaign is a shining example of how the government and people of the United States of America, through the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, are partnering with the government of Cross River State, as well as international partners such as the High Commission of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, to invest in the people of this great state by providing access to quality health care services. This is a goal we all share.

Despite the existence of an effective vaccine against measles, the disease has continued to be one of the most devastating causes of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. The World Health Assembly has the goal of reaching a 95% reduction in mortality by 2010. For Nigeria, an Integrated Measles Campaign was recommended to achieve this target. And this campaign is targeted to reach all children under the age of five. It will deliver vaccines against measles and polio, and provide a Vitamin A supplement.

To support the Government of Nigeria’s initiative- and Cross River State’s commitment- to reducing child morbidity and mortality, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, is also taking this opportunity to provide 116,000 long-lasting insecticide treated nets to all children under five years of age, in all 18 local government areas in Cross River State.

I want to talk a bit about malaria today as well. In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for the death of more than 300,000 children under five each year, and it accounts for over ten percent of all maternal deaths in this country. It is estimated that economic and social advancement, as well as approximately $1.2 billion dollars, are lost every year to malaria through the loss of productivity and costs related to treatment.

The challenge of reducing child morbidity and morality is enormous, which is why we have formed public-public and public-private partnerships with the government of Cross River State and several non-governmental organizations. Together we will use proven strategies to effectively deliver immunizations and insecticide treated nets to the people of Cross River State.

The U.S. Government is committed to investing in the people of Nigeria, and of Cross River State, and I assure you that we will follow your state's leadership towards supporting improved and accessible health care services for the people of this great state. I am happy to be a part of this flag-off event, officially launching the second phase of a nationwide initiative to combat measles and malaria in 17 southern and middle belt states. I commend you for your efforts, and I am confident that you will achieve your goal of access to quality health care services for the people of Cross River State. Congratulations and best of luck with this exciting initiative. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at the MOU Signing Ceremony of American Corner at the Ovie Brume Youth Center, Lagos


MOU Signing, American Corner at the Ovie Brume Youth Center

U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders
Ovie Brume Youth Center
Lagos, Nigeria
December 3, 2008

It is a pleasure to be here at the Ovie Brume Youth Center not only to celebrate the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding to establish the newest American Corner, the first of its kind in Lagos. We have several of these in other states around Nigeria but none here in Lagos until today. Under the U.S. Mission's framework for partnership with the people of Nigeria and particularly their desire for better educational development, I wanted to make sure we had an American corner in Lagos.

This signing provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of education as an investment in people. The U.S. Government policy is to spend millions of dollars on education, and training of both students and teachers, and providing books and other resources. The American Corner Lagos is part of this contribution. In American Corner Lagos a partnership between the U.S. Mission in Nigeria and the Ovia Brume Youth Centre you will find the literature of America’s best writers. You will find information about American society culture politics history and business and U.S. elections. You can find out how to study in the U.S. and how to apply for a visa. You have free access to the Internet.

This American Corner is not a cyber center. But it is a center for resources for students of all ages for journalists, academics, businesses, civic organizations, teachers, government officials, military, clergy, and traditional rulers. Whether the challenge is transforming conflict into dialogue conducting medical research on issues like HIV/AIDS halting the trafficking of persons or designing an efficient energy grid -- which are all policies addressed by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria -- the materials found in American Corners will help you address these issues and conduct research on almost any other issues.

The U.S. Government through our Fulbright program sponsors several Nigerian and American scholars to conduct research at institutions in the U.S. and Nigeria. One of our Fulbright scholars Dr. Cliff Missen developed software known as an e-Granary which places thousands of resource materials on a single server. The U.S Mission is installing these e-Granary software systems in our American Corners throughout Nigeria as a tool to increase the ability to conduct research for free. We are excited that this American Corner Lagos will be using this e-Granary system to provide the highest quality of service to youth students and scholars in the area.

By signing this memorandum of understanding we are committing to work together to enhance education in Nigeria. While the U.S. Mission to Nigeria is committed to supporting you in this endeavor it is up to the students, businesses, journalists, and academics to be interactive with the resources available at American Corner Lagos. It can provide the best possible service for access to information that you deem important for your future or the future of your business. Education is something the U.S. government spends a lot of money on in Nigeria. We want the best for Nigerian education and the best American Corner Lagos for you. So today I say welcome to American Corner

Thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Goodwill Message by Ambassador Sanders at the World AIDS Day at the Eagle Square

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders
Goodwill Message: World AIDS Day at Eagle Square

December 1, 2008

Speech as prepared for delivery.

All protocols duly observed.

It is my pleasure to commemorate and celebrate World AIDS Day 2008. For more than 25 years, the world has witnessed the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. Until recently, many of our friends living with HIV/AIDS wondered whether prevention or treatment could ever succeed in environments where resources, assistance, and care were limited, and where having HIV was considered a death sentence.

This is my second celebration of World AIDS Day in Nigeria, and I was here nearly nine years ago when the devastation of the disease was only coming to the fore, but so too was the stigmatism.

Today it is a better story, but a story that still needs a better ending. World AIDS Day is not only about continuing the fight against a stigmatism, but also making sure that those living with HIV/AIDS are not only taken care of, but never forgotten.

I am here to tell you that my Government is a partner in your fight for care, treatment, and prevention. Toward this end, the U.S. Government and the American people have provided- since 2004- more than $1 billion U.S. dollars for this purpose, with an expected increase of another $450 million dollars next year. We are the largest donor -- under our PEPFAR program world-wide and also here in Nigeria in support of the fight on this issue.

We must never let our guard down against this fight as the numbers of those affected world-wide are staggering, and in Nigeria even more of a concern, as those most affected tend to be women and children.

If you can imagine just five years ago, only fifty thousand people in all of sub-Saharan Africa living with HIV/AIDS were receiving treatment. As of the end of September, 2008, in Nigeria alone, the Government of Nigeria, in partnership with the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, is supporting nearly 211,000 men, women, and children with treatment.

The U.S. Government’s work on HIV/AIDS, with the Government of Nigeria and our partners, focuses on the communities around the country. Together, we have helped and reached two million people with HIV counseling and testing, and more than 640,000 pregnant women have received health services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

This is just one side of the story. Clearly these achievements are not possible with money alone. It is the courage, dedication, and commitment of individuals in countless communities across Nigeria that are choosing life, and saving the lives and creating hope for a future for those living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and the hope of an HIV/AIDS-free future for the next generation.

On this World AIDS Day, we celebrate the lives saved as a result of Nigeria’s commitment to fight this deadly disease. The U.S. Government is happy to be a partner in that commitment. We celebrate those who mobilize communities, who provide care with dignity and compassion, and who work hard to prevent the spread of HIV.

As we celebrate this 20th World AIDS Day, we are celebrating life, leadership, friendship, and partnership. Together, the Nigerians and Americans have proven that with support and leadership, ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

For all of the people today who are living with HIV/AIDS, or caring for someone with it, you are today- and every day- extraordinary people. We honor all of you because you are the leaders, you are courageous, and you are an example for all of us. We salute you on this day, and let’s make every day in 2009 a World AIDS Day. Thank you.