HIV/AIDS Has ‘Devastating Impact on Food Production,’ U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Says at G8 Meeting
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday in New York at a contact group of the G8 meeting on food security called on the world's wealthiest nations to address the "challenges of AIDS" because the epdidemic is an obstacle to finding "viable solutions" for the food shortage problem in the region. Annan said that HIV/AIDS has a "devastating impact on food production" in Africa and called on the group, which includes representatives from the eight most industrialized countries -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -- to provide the resources for "radical approaches on multiple fronts" to address both of the issues (U.N. Secretary-General release, 3/5). Annan said, "AIDS is decimating the work force [in Africa], killing the most skilled and productive members of society -- the teachers, the civil servants, the doctors, the scientists. Sector by sector, the loss of human resources is bringing in its wake a governance and development crisis of catastrophic dimensions" (Speech transcript, 3/5).
Annan proposed a "multi-point action program" for the region, including a "comprehensive approach" to combating HIV/AIDS (U.N Secretary-General release, 3/5). The plan includes: ensuring access to affordable HIV/AIDS treatment; taking a "comprehensive, multi-sectoral" approach to fighting the disease; "redoubl[ing]" efforts to fight the "stigma and silence" surrounding HIV/AIDS; and remedying the "drastic shortfalls" in non-food items, such as HIV services and education. Annan concluded, "This interlocking set of issues facing Africa is far greater than the sum of its parts. ... Addressing the issue ... requires a new, integrated response from both the governments of Africa and the international community. It requires a shift from short-term approaches to a reassessment of our entire strategy for development -- or taking long-term measures even when addressing short-term emergencies" (Speech transcript, 3/5).