Former African President Challenges Leaders to Fight Against AIDS
Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda has challenged African leaders to step up the fight against the spread of HIV, Reuters reports. At a media forum in Lusaka, Zambia, on Friday, Kaunda suggested that leaders are too ashamed to confront AIDS because it can be sexually transmitted, and said that the true shame rests not in the method of the disease's spread, but rather in "the continued death when [leaders] are doing little to help." Kaunda added that leaders would be wise to disregard South African President Thabo Mbeki's assertion that HIV is not the only source of AIDS, noting that regardless of what "brings about AIDS," it is imperative to take immediate steps to contain further spread of the disease. Kaunda, whose son died of AIDS in 1986, also stressed the importance of improving African economies, saying that poorer economies "cannot win a fight of this magnitude. [They] require massive funds to put a dent on the scourge." He also encouraged individuals pursuing positions in public office to undergo HIV testing to improve AIDS awareness and to confirm their physical ability to serve and "work in the interest of [their] people." AIDS has cut life expectancy by up to 30% in some countries, and placed considerable strain on African budgets for health care and education (Esipisu, Reuters, 11/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.