Senegal: Africa's HIV/AIDS success story

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, a country with an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate under 2 per cent and among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, has explained the country's success story against the pandemic on an early awareness and prevention campaign.
At a press briefing Wednesday in New York following the UN special session on HIV/AIDS, Wade said the epidemic required a response commensurate with its scale, and the Senegalese government mobilised against it upon the appearance of the first cases in 1986.
By 1987, he noted, Senegal had established a national blood- screening programme.
"The most important factor in Senegal's success in limiting the spread of the disease has been a general consciousness of the danger of HIV/AIDS," he affirmed.
Concurring, Health minister Awa Coll-Seck observed that Senegal gained control of HIV/AIDS thanks to a multi-sectoral, support from religious leaders, the involvement of women, and community mobilisation.
"HIV/AIDS should not be viewed as a medical issue only," Coll-Seck said, insisting "it is important to reach out to the grassroots.
" At Wednesday's briefing, President Wade also presented his Omega Plan - a blueprint on regional economic integration in Africa.
The plan focuses on four priority areas including infrastructure, education, health, and agriculture, with funding to come from African countries themselves besides foreign and private sector investments.
The plan aims to assess the needs of the continent in an effort to bridge basic gaps between African and industrialised countries, and to raise funds on the best possible terms.
"With successful fund-raising and the building of inter- state infrastructure, Africa would be poised to become a major player on the global arena," Wade said.
The Omega Plan is advocated alongside two others including the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme proposed by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obsanjo of Nigeria and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and the Compact for African Recovery developed by the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
"A key challenge is to forge consensus between the proposed plans," noted Senegal's Foreign Affairs minister Cheick Tidiane Gadio.
Advocating the Omega Plan, though, Gadio said "it has the capacity to reverse the brain drain syndrome that Africa continues to experience and can certainly take us right into the African renaissance.

28 june 2001 19:53:00

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