United Nations To Establish ‘High-Level’ Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa, U.N. Secretary-General Says
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday at the 22nd Africa-France Summit in Paris announced that the United Nations will create a "high-level" commission on HIV/AIDS and governance in Africa, Xinhua News Agency reports. He said that the commission will examine the connection between the disease and governance across different sectors, including agriculture, youth and the military. The commission will "come up with detailed recommendations for stemming the tide of the disease across Africa and advise African policymakers on how to address the profound structural impact it is beginning to have on their ability to tackle their many development challenges," Annan said, adding, "Nowhere is an effective African response more critical than in the fight against AIDS." He also called on African leaders to focus on the "proliferation" of AIDS orphans. Currently, there are 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa, and that number could reach 20 million by 2010 (Xinhua News Agency, 2/20).
Focus on Women
Annan also called on African leaders to focus more attention on women in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which he called a "governance and development crisis of catastrophic dimensions," Agence France-Presse reports. He said, "If you want to save Africa, you must save the African woman first," adding, "It is they who care for the young, the old the sick and dying. It is they who nurture social networks that help societies share burdens." Annan called for African countries to boost health care spending and HIV/AIDS awareness efforts, saying that "much more is needed ... to bring the full force of your office to this issue." Annan also said, "AIDS in Africa and around the world is more and more wearing a woman's face. We will gain control of the pandemic only if women are at the very center of our strategy" (Agence France-Presse, 2/20).