Obasanjo appeals for contribution to global AIDS fund

Washington- US (PANA) -- President Olusegun Obasanjo Friday called on all nations, businesses, foundations and individuals to join the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases by contributing to the global AIDS fund recently proposed.
Obasanjo, who discussed strategies to halt the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases with his host, President George W.
Bush, said African countries which are most affected by the disease gave their unflinching commitment to the fight against the killer diseases during the African summit in Abuja at the end of April.
At a ceremony at the White House attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and US administration officials, Bush announced the first contribution of 200 million dollars to the global AIDS fund.
Obasanjo said even though the world was far from the target of between seven and 10 billion dollars annually needed in the fight against AIDS, the US contribution was the beginning that challenged others to also join in the efforts.
Speaking on the devastation of AIDS and other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, Bush said the sheer number of those suffering and dying from these diseases, particularly in Africa, was beyond comprehension.
"In a part of the world where so many have suffered from war and want and famine, these latest tribulations are the cruellest of fates," he said.
Bush assured of America's commitment to working with other nations to reduce the suffering inflicted globally by AIDS.
"Only through sustained and focussed international cooperation can we address problems so grave and suffering so great.
" From discussions during the meeting with Obasanjo, Annan and others in his administration, Bush said a consensus is already forming about the basic elements that will shape the AIDS fund and its use.
The consensus, he said, has been that, the fund should be based on partnerships among nations, and between the public and private sectors as well the use of an integrated approach to the problem with emphasis on prevention and training of medical personnel and treatment and care.
The other elements, he said, include the fact that the fund should focus on best practices by funding a core menu of programmes proven to work; promotion of scientific accountability to ensuring that all programmes are reviewed by medical and public health experts and respect for intellectual property rights as an incentive for vital research and development.
Bush said the 200 million dollars contribution to the fund was in addition to the 760 million dollars the US is spending this year to help international efforts to fight the disease.
"This 200 million dollars will go exclusively to the global fund, with more to follow as we learn where our support ca be most effective," he said.
In remarks, Annan said the key objectives of AIDS programmes should be education, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, treatment and care for patients, search for vaccine and cure and care for those devastated by AIDS, particularly orphans.
He said the fight against AIDS would required a war chest of between seven and 10 billion dollars annually and that the Global AIDS and Health Fund which he announced at the Abuja Summit was open to contribution from governments, NGOs, foundations and individuals.
He observed that the contribution by the US should spur others to right to the challenge of AIDS, which is spreading not only in Africa but also in Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.
In a sign of the growing international attention to AIDS, the UN General Assembly is holding a special session in New York, 25 June on the diseases.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo is expected to brief the international community on decisions reached on the issue by African leaders during the summit in Abuja.

11 may 2001 23:33:00

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