OAU seeks International assistance against HIV/AIDS

Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has called for a massive international assistance to help Africa to successfully tackle HIV/AIDS, as the technical Ministerial session of the African AIDS Summit got underway in Abuja Tuesday.
Addressing the opening session, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim said with Africa disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS scourge, "we need international assistance not in a token or symbolic form, but massive resources" to fight the disease.
Salim said while primary resources to fight the disease should come from Africa, the excruciating poverty on the continent and its huge debt burden could not allow it to mobilise enough resources.
Africa has become the epicentre of the disease, with 24.
5 million of the 36 million people infected with HIV/AIDS world-wide, living in the continent.
In 2000 alone, 3.
8 million new cases of HIV/AIDS were recorded in the continent.
The enormity of the problem has forced African leaders to organise the Summit to forge a common front against the disease.
But the OAU Secretary-General said the gathering in Abuja must be a Summit with a difference," and should help pool together "continental energy and those of our partners to fight this pandemic.
" Salim stressed the need to de-stigmatise AIDS, which he said could infect anybody irrespective of colour, religion or race, and to extend compassion to victims and provide the necessary information that could help people prevent the disease.
He pledged that the OAU would remain in the forefront of the struggle against the deadly disease.
Salim said all the efforts of the organisation at economic integration and conflict resolution "will be meaningless if we allow ourselves to be decimated by this pandemic.
" The technical session is discussing the Summit's plan of action, to be considered by African leaders Thursday.

24 Abril 2001 14:50:00

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