The Africa We Want

This past September, as I joined fellow leaders and global citizens at the UN, I was confronted by a brave fellow Kenyan. He challenged his leaders to make HIV treatment available to all who need it and to address the stigma too many people living with the disease face every day of their lives. 12 year old Elijah has been living with HIV since birth. Even at a young age, he has great ambition- he wants to be a scientist. Now it is our turn to be ambitious for Elijah.

My desire is that Elijah will inherit an Africa he can be proud of: where HIV no longer preys on the marginalized and vulnerable; where no parent fears that malaria will kill their children; where tuberculosis will only be found in history books; where our health systems will be resilient to any challenge and benefit every citizen; and where our economies will thrive because we are healthier as nations.

Thanks to over a decade of progress, dedication, and partnership, we are closer to this dream today than at any other time in history. However, progress in public health is tenuous and complacency is simply not an option. In Kenya, nearly 80 percent of adults living with HIV now have access to treatment, but we have made little progress in slowing new infections among young women and girls, who remain disproportionately impacted and exposed to infection than young men. This is not acceptable anywhere in Africa. Around the world, the number of tuberculosis deaths has declined by 29 percent since 2000, but still fewer than two out of three people sick with TB find their way into the health systems. Last year in Kenya, nearly 80 percent of children were protected from malaria by mosquito bed nets, but the only 100 percent protection is acceptable.

To realize the Africa and world we want, we must invest in our collective future to achieve shared prosperity. Investing in health is an investment in the future of our nations. Through innovative financing approaches in Kenya, we can, and will achieve Universal Health Coverage. Access to health is a right, not a privilege defined by geographic and economic inequities, which still hinder the full enjoyment of good health for far too many people.

I have committed Kenya to be among the first African countries to completely control the HIV epidemic by 2030. Universal Health Coverage will not only help us achieve this goal, but also ensure that we will never again be held in the grip of any epidemic.

With these ambitious but achievable goals comes the need for sustained commitment. Kenya is proud to have increased its national health investments and we remain committed to reaching our pledge of allocating 15 percent of Kenya's national budget to the health sector. But as we continue to mobilize domestic funds for health, I also urge our development partners to bridge existing financial gaps, mobilize additional resources, and continue to support the partnerships that have helped pave the way to this historic tipping point.

Africa's and the world's partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has given new meaning to the word impact by saving a remarkable 17 million lives. Through sustained commitment to clear vision, with ambitious targets and collective action by the global community, we can continue to prove to ourselves and the world the power of the possible.

I often find myself thinking about the year 2030, when Elijah will be 27 years old and beginning his career in science. I like to imagine what new innovations and solutions he will create, in a world rife with possibility, free from the health burdens and inequities that have held our nations back for far too long. This is the moment in our shared history, which demands us to be great and ambitious for the Africa we want. It is our legacy to the continent and the world.