|Step up fight against HIV/AIDS -- Annan - By Bonifacio Antonio
Special daily coverage of SADC regional issues on the Afican Union summit currently taking place in Maputo.
MAPUTO, 10 July – The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, promised to help African leaders in their efforts to convince the developed countries to provide more support for the fight against AIDS on the continent.
“The UN family will keep working in close partnership with you… to fight against AIDS,” said Annan, addressing the African Union in Maputo.
“Spending on the fight against HIV/AIDS by African governments, the US and the EU has risen significantly, but still not enough. Twice as much is needed, this year next year, and every year, for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Sixty million Africans have been touched by AIDS in the most immediate way. They are either living with HIV, have died of AIDS or they have lost their parents to AIDS.
According to WHO and UNAIDS estimates, over $10.5 billion US dollars a year will be needed up to 2005 for prevention, treatment, care and support programmes in low and middle-income countries. About half of that total is needed in Africa alone.
With hundreds of people dying of AIDS each day in some of the worst affected countries in Africa, the continent is losing a significant proportion of its young and the productive population.
In addition to scaling up AIDS prevention programmes, wider access to care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS must also be seen as a priority for African leaders.
According to UNAIDS, only 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to anti-retrovirals, out of an estimated four million people in need of the medicine.
Of the 42 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, an estimated 30 million, or 70 percent, live in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, 58 percent of those infected in the region were women.
The UN secretary-general stressed that the African leaders will need to do more to fight and defeat AIDS. “We have to show great commitment and significant actions in dealing with a disease that could wipe out our populations and set back many years in development.
“We know from experience that the spread can be turned back. Some African countries have indeed done so. But this cannot be done piecemeal. It requires a coordinated response from all sectors of society. It requires leadership – in governance, in schools, on the streets, in places of worship, in families, among people living with HIV/AIDS and in the most affected communities,” he said. (SARDC)
SARDC has been reporting on SADC from a regional perspective since 1990. SANF can be reproduced in print or broadcast with credit to SARDC and the author.
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