United Nations, Major Humanitarian Agencies Issue Urgent Appeal for Aid for HIV/AIDS, Food in Southern Africa
The United Nations and several major humanitarian agencies yesterday issued a plea to the international community to fund relief efforts for the "dual human tragedy" of HIV/AIDS and famine in Southern Africa, Agence France-Presse reports. A U.N. appeal for $611 million in aid for Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe has reached 58% of its target, Elizabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said (Agence France-Presse, 1/21). "Without a massive infusion of money and a greatly expanded effort by the affected countries in collaboration with the international community, the future prospects for the 60 million people living in Southern Africa hold little hope," the statement said. The statement recognizes the concomitant breakdown of health and social services caused by the joint epidemics of HIV/AIDS and famine and notes that effective delivery of adequate nutritious food, safe drinking water, comprehensive reproductive health services and HIV prevention and treatment, as well as a strengthening of social support networks and agricultural practices, must be addressed. The statement calls on the "affected governments, donor governments and humanitarian and development agencies" to:
- Raise awareness about the links between the HIV/AIDS epidemic and famine;
- Reduce the stigma associated with the disease and promote the human rights of people living with it;
- Encourage leaders to adopt prevention and treatment strategies, including the use of antiretroviral drugs, that focus on vulnerable groups including women, refugees and internally displaced persons;
- Offer salary supplements and access to HIV transmission prevention methods in order to encourage "essential personnel" to work on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention; and
- Support government policies that encourage equitable sustainable development and "sound" agricultural programs.