Sachs Urges African Nations to Address HIV/AIDS Before Foreign Debts, Calls Disease a ‘Silent Holocaust’
Calling HIV/AIDS a "silent holocaust," Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and a special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said on Saturday that African nations should devote their resources to fighting HIV/AIDS before servicing foreign debts, Reuters reports. "Defend your people," Sachs said at a panel discussion at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, adding, "It's untenable to be paying debt that could be used to fight the [HIV/AIDS] pandemic. It's imperative to channel those funds to AIDS, given this holocaust." According to Reuters, Sachs said that Western and African governments are doing "too little" to fight HIV/AIDS, but he did not single out host nation South Africa or its president, Thabo Mbeki, who has been criticized for questioning the causal link between HIV and AIDS. Health -- along with energy, water, agriculture and biodiversity -- is one of the five "key" topics being discussed at the summit. However, AIDS activists say the epidemic has "taken a back seat" to other issues at the conference, as delegates have "haggle[d] over how best to raise living standards" without further damaging the environment (Chege, Reuters, 8/31).
Peter Piot Interview
UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said that further attempts to promote sustainable development will be a "waste of time" unless HIV/AIDS is "brought under control," IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. In an interview with the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network, Piot said some progress in fighting the disease has been made, but more resources are needed as the reality of the disease is becoming "more and more striking" in Africa (IRIN/ALL Africa.com, 9/2). The full interview is available online.
Kaisernetwork.org's HealthCast will feature some sessions from the Johannesburg summit. Daily Report readers will be alerted when the video is available online.