Tanzania accuses rich nations of doing little for Africa

Dar es Salaam- Tanzania (PANA) -- Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has told the ongoing UN General Assembly special session on Aids that it is practically impossible for poor developing countries to develop capacity for treating all sexually transmitted infections and for HIV testing and counselling.
Mkapa said late Tuesday in New York that rich nations and multinationals have done little in helping Africa bolster its capacity against the Aids scourge.
"It is one thing for Africa to assume leadership and ownership of a holistic and integrated approach (against the epidemic) and quite another to get it operational and produce results.
"The cost of implementation is patently prohibitive and overwhelming, especially as we have another war front of poverty," he said.
For a poor country, Mkapa argued, it was impossible to develop national capacity not only to effectively treat all sexually transmitted infections but also deepen HIV testing and counselling, measure viral loads in patients and monitor the dispensation of anti-retroviral drugs to patients.
"We are here to appeal for greater partnership and more help, with new resources, not repackaged existing aid programmes," he said.
Mkapa censored critics of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for championing the establishment of the HIV/AIDS Global Fund.
He said Annan's expectations were not unrealistic as suggested by sceptics.
The real problem was lack of political will among some of the rich nations.
In Africa, Mkapa pointed out, countries had so far demonstrated their commitment in dealing with the epidemic while implementing several initiatives, including the Abuja Declaration on confronting the disease.
If rich countries could spend over 300 billion dollars a year to subsidise agriculture, which accounts for less than 10 percent of their GDP, and if they could spend over 100 billion dollars on Y2K, they could spare 10 billion dollars to save the lives of millions of poor people dying of Aids.
Mkapa said the special session of the UN General Assembly should not only make an eloquent call for help and partnership, but also determine the form it should take.
He critisized those who say cheap drugs for HIV/Aids are not a priority for Africa.
"We also don't think they are a panacea.
But we say they are important.
"Every life they extend is as important in Africa as it is in rich countries.
For every baby that is saved from being infected from its mother, we are building the foundation of the future of our countries.
As of now, only one out of 2,500 HIV- positive Africans is on anti-retroviral drug therapy.
The rest are left to die," he added.

27 june 2001 07:41:00




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