Red Cross Pledges to Increase Efforts in Africa
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies "admitted" yesterday that it has not done enough to help fight Africa's AIDS epidemic and "appealed" for more than $10 million in donations to fund prevention efforts in the stricken continent, the Associated Press reports. As part of a 10-year program, the federation will call on two million volunteers in 53 countries to make house calls "to raise AIDS awareness, promote condom use and support children orphaned by the disease (Associated Press, 11/30). The organization is asking for $10.5 million dollars in donations to support what it is calling the African Red Cross/Crescent Health Initiative (ARCH2010). The federation also said yesterday that 100,000 of its volunteers are HIV-positive. Bekcle Geleta, Africa head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said, "The Red Cross was born on the battlefields of the 19th century but not even the horrors of war in the 20th century can compare with the loss of life we are going to see in Africa over the first decade of this new millenium because of the AIDS pandemic." Through its awareness program, the Red Cross is hoping to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. "Through our permanent networks of volunteers, national societies are uniquely placed to [a]ffect behavioral changes on a large scale in the communities of Africa by spreading simple, culturally sensitive messages around abstinence, fidelity and use of condoms," Alvaro Bermejo, the ICRC's health chief, said (Reuters, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.