Donald John Wright Speech at The Benjamin Mkapa Legacy Symposium The Golden Tulip Hotel Airport Zanzibar July 14, 2022
Your Excellency Hon. President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania
Your Excellency Hon. Dr. Hussein Ally Mwinyi, President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar
Your Excellency Hon. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Former President of the United Republic Of Tanzania
The Mkapa Family, led by Mama Anna Mkapa, Widow of the Late Former President Benjamin Mkapa;
Honorable Ministers here present; Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Dr. Adeline Kimambo, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation;
Dr. Ellen Mkondya Senkoro, Chief Executive Officer of the Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation;
Invited Guests, Family and Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the United States government, I am grateful to speak at this second high level symposium honoring the life and success of the late former president of the United Republic of Tanzania Hon. Benjamin William Mkapa.
Today we honor a true champion of global health, a developmentalist, a regionalist, a globalist, and a great statesman. The late President Mkapa would be proud to see us, as we join forces to build resilient partnerships to improve the lives of underserved populations.
The past two years saw the world beset with deadly pandemics. We are of course not yet free from COVID-19. As you all know, we continue to contend with the virus, and are still reeling from its global health and social economic impact. COVID-19 has hit the world while countries in sub-Saharan Africa still suffer from other epidemics like malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Maternal mortality and critical shortages of healthcare workers make the situation even worse for marginalized communities and compromise the quality of available health services.
The theme of this year’s symposium – “Resilient Leadership, Inspiring Change For All” reflects our aspirations in our current global situation. We are at a time where countries like Tanzania need a resilient health system and strong public health leadership. The United States is proud to be a partner to the United Republic of Tanzania as we continue to work together towards President Mkapa’s vision of creating healthy lives and well-being for all, in Tanzania and the rest of Africa.
Thirteen years ago, the World Health Organization called member states to work towards universal health coverage which aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In line with Benjamin Mkapa’s vision, the third goal focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages. This can only happen if every Tanzanian has equal access to quality health services.
It is a tragedy to still see a woman losing her life as she gives birth to another human being because of barriers to access care. It is a tragedy to see people both young and old dying for lack of proper prevention, treatment, and care for diseases like malaria, TB and HIV. It is also a tragedy to see how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives despite the availability of vaccines.
While we know these tragedies still exist, there is both hope and progress in the provision of health care. On behalf of the United States government, I commend the government of the United Republic of Tanzania for their efforts to implement the legacy of Benjamin Mkapa by making progress towards universal health coverage. Resiliency for the health system comes through investment and improved country-led coordination of health systems strengthening efforts. Deliberate actions must be taken to make single health insurance a reality, both on the mainland and Zanzibar. We strongly encourage building partnerships that generate tangible outcomes in the health sector. This requires coordination with the public sector, private sector, faith based communities and civil society organizations.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will close by reaffirming the U.S. government’s commitment to continue supporting the vision of the late Benjamin Mkapa, the resilient focused leader who inspired change, and whose work continues through the Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation. We will continue to support skills development of healthcare workers, and prioritize support to areas where there are discrepancies between the care provided to patients and recommended best practices in healthcare, particularly remote health facilities.
We are still very much in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the U.S. government calls upon all actors both state and non-state to accelerate vaccination efforts for the immunity of all eligible Tanzanians. As Her Excellency Mama Samia always says, “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”, we choose to go far by building on strong partnership.
Tuko pamoja, asanteni sana!