World Food Programme, UNAIDS Sign Agreement To Cooperate in Fight Against Hunger, Disease
The World Food Programme and UNAIDS yesterday signed an agreement at WFP's Executive Board meeting in Rome that strengthens the agencies' cooperation in their fight against "the growing links between HIV/AIDS, regional food shortages and chronic hunger," according to a joint press release. The agencies are calling for "radical and urgent" action to address the links between the disease, chronic food shortages and malnutrition. "Food aid plays a pivotal role in responding to HIV/AIDS. The first thing poor families affected by AIDS ask for is not cash or drugs, it is food," WFP Executive Director James Morris said, adding, "[F]ood has to be one of the weapons in the arsenal against this disease." Members of AIDS-affected households are often hungry, as farmers are too sick to plant and families cannot produce or purchase food. "Those who are infected are often unable to feed themselves," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, adding, "Without good nutrition, they are robbed of one of the defenses against AIDS-related illnesses and early death." Piot also noted that hunger often forces people to adopt high-risk survival strategies, such as sex work. Under the agreement, WFP and UNAIDS will focus on pregnant women and orphans during emergency situations and make food security "an integral part" of governmental and organizational strategies to fight HIV/AIDS. In addition, WFP will manage HIV/AIDS-related food programs, and UNAIDS will provide technical assistance. The agencies are also seeking to form partnerships among other U.N. agencies, governments, international nongovernmental organizations and other groups to "build a massive global response to HIV/AIDS." Morris said, "Action is required urgently. Only through building partnerships can we hope to avert catastrophe and prevent HIV/AIDS from threatening the very existence of so many people in desperate need of our help" (WFP/UNAIDS release, 2/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.