PETALING JAYA, Oct 30 — Strong political will and collaboration with other major stakeholders is needed to end AIDS in Malaysia by 2030.
Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) chairman Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman made an impassioned plea during her speech at the Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala on Friday night.
“But other countries less advanced and more impacted by HIV are well on their way to achieving it (ending AIDS). Botswana, Rwanda to name a few, how have they done it?” she said.
“With political will, strong collaboration between the health and scientific sectors and their communities and of course, the financial investments.
“Can Malaysia do the same? Of course, we can. We’ve shown what we’re capable with our Covid-19 vaccine programme. Now’s the time to turn our attention, once again to the HIV pandemic.”
She added that it was foreseeable to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
She said some of the existing punitive laws and policies have prevented some people living with and at risk of HIV from getting access to prevention and treatment.
“Politics aside, one of the biggest lessons from both HIV and Covid-19 is that we cannot overcome either disease or any other diseases for that matter without working together.”
Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) chairman Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman made an impassioned plea during her speech at the Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala last night. — Picture by Raymond Manuel
The prestigious gala, themed “Ensuring Sustainability in the AIDS Response,” saw over 200 guests including the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah and the Raja Permaisuri of Perak Tuanku Zara Salim along with corporate figures, influential personalities and celebrities gracing the event which took place at the Sunway Resort Hotel.
This year’s fund-raising gala has managed to raise a total of RM2.55 million in donations, the highest amount MAF has collected since the gala’s inception.
All funds raised from the gala will be used to support the MAF Medicine Assistance Scheme, a programme that supports underprivileged Malaysians living with HIV gain access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment.
The Red Ribbon Gala first debuted in 1996 as a response to the emerging AIDS crisis and has continued to provide resources to fight the disease.
MAF patron, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir during her video speech at the 2022 Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala. — Picture by Raymond Manuel
MAF patron, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in a prerecorded video speech said the contributions had given MAF a renewed sense of optimism about the future of AIDS response in Malaysia.
“As we reflect on our progress, let us not forget that the AIDS epidemic is a complex disease with deep social impact.
“Although effective treatment for HIV infection is already established, many people living with HIV are not benefiting from such advances because of socio-economic disparities and stigma associated with the disease.
“More than 30 years have gone by since the first case of AIDS in Malaysia and it is time for us to step up our game and confront the issue of sexual transmission, which is now the dominant method of HIV transmission,” she said.
“We should create an enabling environment for at-risk populations to come forward and get tested and treated if we want to end the AIDS epidemic.”
Guests were treated to a five-course meal made up of locally-sourced ingredients along with vegetables which were grown and harvested on top of Sunway Resort Hotel.
Appetisers for the evening; otak-otak siakap along with ‘latok’ sea grapes, Bambangan relish, Sunway XFarms petite cress topped with keropok. — Picture by Raymond Manuel
The meals were curated by Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala’s culinary advisor, Nigel Skelchy and was prepared by Sunway Resort Hotel’s executive chef, Peter Lee, and his culinary team.
Among the food items on the menu were soft buns ranging from pandan, dried shrimps and spicy Chilli bun paired with flavoured butters: Coriander curried, pegaga lime and classic butter.
There was also otak-otak siakap along with ‘latok’ sea grapes, Bambangan relish, Sunway XFarms petite cress topped with keropok, cendol deluxe which was pandan sponge cake with a touch of gula Melaka salted caramel along with a yam coconut ice cream.
Sunway deputy executive chairman, Tan Sri Razman M Hashim took the centre stage for a performance at the 2022 Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala. — Picture by Raymond Manuel
Entertainment for the night included performances by Red Ribbon Celebrity Supporter, Winnie K, and Sunway deputy executive chairman, Tan Sri Razman M Hashim.
Indonesian songstress Kris Dayanti took to the stage to belt out several of her well-known songs including Menghitung Hari and Cahaya much to the delight of guests,
Former Malaysian AIDS Council Bakthiar Talhah also took to the stage to share his experience of being a person living with HIV/AIDS.
Legendary Indonesian songstress, Krisdayanti performs some of her hit songs including 'Cahaya' and 'Menghitung Hari' at the Sunway-MAF Red Ribbon Gala 2022. — Picture by Raymond Manuel
MAF Inspiration Awards were also presented to: Jamie Mead (Hilton Southeast Asia’s senior director operations), Goh Miah Keat (Karex Berhad chief executive officer and executive director) and legendary Indonesian songstress, Krisdayanti.
The MAF Philanthropic Excellence Award was given to founder and CEO of Monspace, Datuk Sri Dr Jessy Lai for her efforts and dedication in ending AIDS in Malaysia.
The Sunway-MAF Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award was presented to Mohamad Raffi’e Jaafar.
The Black-tie affair, themed “Ensuring Sustainability in the AIDS Response,” then wrapped up with a powerful performance by Kris Dayanti who performed a total of four songs.