Zambian President Disappointed by Failure of Donor Community To Fulfill Pledges to Global Fund
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa on Tuesday during a meeting with U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis "expressed disappointment" that money promised by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was being delivered slowly and urged the international donor community to fulfill its pledges to the fund, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 8/5). The Global Fund has pledged to provide $42 million over two years to Zambia to help fight HIV/AIDS and TB (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/1). Already this year, the fund has released $4 million to Zambia, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 8/5). Mwanawasa, speaking at the opening of the four-day Southern African Network of AIDS Service Organisations Conference in Zambia, which Lewis is also attending, said that Zambia is having difficulty providing for the country's more than 600,000 HIV/AIDS orphans, according to Agence France-Presse. "We now have 620,000 orphans and I am told the figure will go up to 974,000 by the year 2014," Mwanawasa said, adding that any economic or development aid would not be effective without also combating HIV/AIDS, including increasing access to antiretroviral treatment (Agence France-Presse, 8/5). Lewis said that the Global Fund has called for grant recipient countries to implement administrative structures before the fund will release grant money, according to Xinhua News Agency. "We are trying to push the Global Fund to relax some of the conditionalities so that the money is released," Lewis said, adding, "There is still a lot of money which needs to be released to fight the pandemic" (Xinhua News Agency, 8/5).
Fighting HIV/AIDS Stigma
Lewis also said that although fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa is a "tremendous challenge," African countries work on creating their own solutions to encourage voluntary HIV/AIDS testing, home-based care, treatment and prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (Mwanangombe, Associated Press, 8/5). Lewis last week began a six-day trip to Uganda that has focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the lives of the country's women and children, including AIDS orphans. Lewis is traveling with children's rights advocate Grace Machel, wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/30). Machel, who also spoke at the conference on Tuesday, said that Africa needs to eliminate HIV/AIDS discrimination and stigma, according to the Associated Press. She added that Africans need to begin openly discussing sex to fight the epidemic effectively. "Living with HIV/AIDS is not a shame. You can live with AIDS," Machel said, asking, "Why do we then discriminate?" Lewis said, "The strength of Africa lives at the grass roots. All we will need now is to find resources that will deal with issues of orphans, home-based care and all those areas that make it complicated to deal with the stigma and fear of being associated with HIV/AIDS" (Associated Press, 8/5). According to the government, 200 Zambians die of AIDS-related causes and another 500 people become HIV-positive each day(Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/1).