LUSAKA, Zambia, December 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- His Excellency, Mr. Rupiah Banda, President of the Republic of Zambia, has marked World AIDS Day by highlighting the advances made in combating the disease across Zambia.

Boosting health provision throughout the country has been a key Government priority as President Banda works to build a stronger and more productive nation. A central part of this has been strengthening AIDS prevention work and the treatment and support of Zambians suffering with HIV/AIDS.

President Banda said: "Although HIV/AIDS is a global problem, it is one which we in Zambia can control. This is an affliction suffered by many people in Zambia and I strongly believe we can and must combat it. I am proud to say that my Government has faced this problem head on, taking the lead in fighting this terrible disease and delivering real solutions to those in our country who are affected.

"For example, we have widened access to the vital anti-retroviral drugs which can help those infected with HIV to manage the disease and lead a healthier and more productive life.

"Since 2008 my Government has placed more than 300,000 extra people, among them over 23,000 children, on these important medicines to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in our country."

A further important Government goal is to eliminate the transfer of HIV/AIDS from pregnant mothers to their unborn children by 2015. In pursuit of this the Government has provided access to anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs) for an additional 47,000 HIV infected pregnant women in the past year. In total ARVs are now being provided to 89% of Zambians suffering with AIDS.

The Government's achievement in meeting AIDS-related national health targets in 2009 has included testing 1,550,000 people, while 4,000 new doctors and nurses have been recruited into the Zambian healthcare system since 2008.

Issued by: Dickson Jere Special assistant to the President Press and public relations

SOURCE: Statehouse, Lusaka, Zambia