Appeal for anti-HIV drugs to protect unborn babies

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- A legal consultant with the Dakar- based African Council of AIDS Service Organisations (AfriCASO), has called on African governments to mobilise resources for anti-retroviral treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women.
In an exclusive with PANA, Dorothy Asiedu insisted that policymakers and the international community in general should be involved in the mobilisation of resources for Africa.
Speaking on her return from Kampala, Uganda where she attended the 8th international conference of the Society of Women against AIDS in Africa (SWAA), Asiedu said the epidemic was taking an increasing toll on the continent.
She said anti-retroviral drugs could check mother-to-child infection and spare Africa's future generation the pandemic.
The 2-6 April SWAA conference on the challenges and strategies in averting child exposure to HIV/AIDS, was attended by more than 200 participants from all over Africa.
Asiedu recalled that civil society organisations were the first to respond to the AIDS scourge before governments and international intsitutions followed later with elaborate structures.
She said AfriCASO was at the forefront in articulating the concerns of African community groups on the pandemic and continues to advocate for change at different forums.
AfriCASO's initiatives are directed towards vaccine development, access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients as well as resource mobilisation and allocation against the pandemic.
Participants of the conference were moved by testimonies given by children from southern African countries who have been orphaned by AIDS.
A little girl whose father died of AIDS and whose mother was on her deathbed, asked what SWAA could do for her after the mother passed away.
Conference participants resolved that a SWAA task force closely follow up the little girl's situation so that they could take care of her future.
Asiedu said the testimonies given by the AIDS orphans would make a significant contribution to the fight against the pandemic in Africa.
Formed in 1991, AfriCASO is a network of African NGOs, community-based organisations, groups of people living with HIV/AIDS and other local initiatives in the response to HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Among other things, AfriCASO coordinates international and locally-based efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV, and provides support to people affected by the disease.
Several First Ladies in Africa, including Stella Obasanjo of Nigeria, Anna Mkapa of Tanzania and the Queen Mother from the Royal Bauthleng Hawelana of South Africa, attended the conference.
Stella Obasanjo donated five million Ugandan shillings to support TASO, an NGO in Uganda that provides support, mainly counselling and limited material, to people living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

19 april 2001 18:50:00

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