Ethiopian church seeks support to fight HIV/AIDS

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has registered remarkable achievements in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, according to the church's patriarch, Abune Paulos.
The church, however, requires the assistance of development partners to strengthen its intervention activities across Ethiopia, the patriarch late Monday told U.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt.
Leavitt is leading a high-level delegation on a tour of three African nations -- Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire and Mali -- to which the United States provides funding and resources to help fight the spread of diseases, including malaria and highly pathogenic avian influenza.
During discussions with the delegation, Abune commended the US government and its people for granting over US$13 million in support of the church's efforts toward prevention and control of the AIDS pandemic.
The nationwide HIV/ AIDS prevalence in Ethiopia is estimated at 2.
2 percent, which indicates a low-level generalised epidemic, health experts say.
In Cote d'Ivoire, the HIV/AIDS prevalence is an estimated 3.
9 percent, and the disease remains one of the main causes of death among adults.
The U.
government officials will meet with senior representatives of the governments of the three countries, visit hospitals, clinics and research facilities, and travel to communities in rural areas to see how the people address the challenges of delivering care in remote locations.
Their tour includes meeting with religious leaders and visiting health-related sites operated by churches and mosques, to see first-hand the role of faith-based organisations in delivering health care in Africa.
Leavitt, who is accompanied by Dr.
Julie Gerberding, director of the HHS Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Tim Ziemer, the US President's malaria coordinator, remarked that the Ethiopian church has set exemplary activities toward containing the spread of the diseases.
Ethiopia and Cote d'Ivoire are two of the 15 focus countries targeted by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is America's largest commitment in human history to combat a single disease.
In July 2008, President George W.
Bush signed a law that extends the emergency plan for another five years, and includes bilateral and multilateral aid for efforts against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria.
The goal of the malaria initiative is to reach 85 percent of the most vulnerable groups, children under the age of five and pregnant women, with proven and effective prevention and treatment measures.

12 august 2008 10:22:00

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