Church teams up with govt to fight HIV/AIDS

Dar es Salaam- Tanzania (PANA) -- The Catholic Church in Tanzania has formed a technical team to oversee all HIV/AIDS activities in its 30 dioceses in the country as part of a national response against the rapid spread of the incurable disease.
The Technical AIDS Committee, set up by Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), will mainly focus attention in the mobilisation and sensitisation of the church community towards controlling the dreaded disease.
Already, Catholic Church leaders have identified groups of women and youth who would spread the anti-HIV/AIDS message in various churches in rural Tanzania.
"The challenge we are facing as a church is that we must support government's multi-sectoral programme to halt increasing AIDS cases in the country," George Kanga, coordinator of the TEC AIDS Control Programme, said.
"We fully realise that HIV/AIDS is more than a medical problem, but also a social, cultural and economic issue.
It requires the participation of many people, many sectors and the use of more resources," he added.
Under the church's anti-HIV/AIDS plan, selected youth and women groups would address key issues like behavioural change, promoting the care of People Living With AIDS and unsafe sexual activities.
The programme would also involve youth in diocesan HIV/AIDS activities, promotion of networks among AIDS service organizations and the use of anti-retroviral drugs, Kanga explained.
He said the realisation that HIV/AIDS required multi- sectoral interventions has now shifted the focus to make the church programmes multi-sectoral in nature by expanding sectoral representation in decision-making within the church.
The launch of the Catholic Church's anti-AIDS project has received positive response from other government departments, non-governmental organisations and faith groups.
TEC leaders believe the approach has increased collaboration among institutions working in the area of HIV/AIDS at both local and international levels.
"The main problems that the Church is facing in this AIDS battle include inadequate knowledge on national issues, poor communication and lack of funds, an Anglican Bishop told PANA Wednesday in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa earlier in the year appealed to religious leaders in the country to spearhead the war against HIV/AIDS, saying the disease was a major threat to the nation's existence.
Christians and Muslims each make up one-third of Tanzania's estimated population of more than 30 million people.

01 august 2001 19:49:00

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