African Leaders Attending Organization of African Unity Summit to Address AIDS Pandemic
African leaders who convene next week at the Organization of African Unity summit meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, will work to "turn broken promises on tackling the [AIDS] pandemic into long-overdue results," Reuters reports. Although the leaders declared a state of emergency at a Nigerian AIDS conference in April, health officials note that "many countries have barely begun to confront the virus." Sam Kalibala, medical associate at the Population Council, said, "Clearly most of the leaders have been able to say the words 'AIDS.' ... The next step is to give leadership that allows quick implementation of AIDS programs in the countries." Kenya Network of Women with AIDS Program Officer Rodah Nduku added, "We have so many 'big men' who are infected. When they come out they will also encourage others." Although few activists "seriously expect" any official to reveal his HIV-positive status at the summit, the meeting will "throw a spotlight on the many laggards in the AIDS race" (Green, Reuters, 7/3). At the summit, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to review African efforts to combat the AIDS pandemic and discuss the disease with heads of state and other officials, Zambian Foreign Ministry officials said on Tuesday. A senior Zambian official said, "[Annan] will dialogue with African leaders on crucial questions regarding the continent's economic and political progress, namely the AIDS pandemic and the many regional conflicts" (Reuters, 7/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.