Botswana President Mogae Concerned HIV/AIDS Funds Pledged by United States Going to U.S. Military Operations
Botswana President Festus Mogae in an interview during the Commonwealth Summit in Nigeria on Saturday said that he was concerned that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could be "diverting crucial money" pledged by the Bush administration to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, Reuters/San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Esipisu, Reuters/San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/6). Botswana is among the 12 African countries targeted by President Bush's five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative, and despite being one of the most economically stable African countries, Botswana has the highest HIV prevalence in the world -- nearly 38% of its 1.8 million people are HIV-positive. Mogae said he aims to achieve an AIDS-free Botswana by 2016 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/13). He said, "Bush has promised (billions of dollars) but unfortunately he is diverting most of it to his war in the Middle East," adding that Africans should attempt to fight the epidemic with "whatever resources" are available, according to Reuters/Union-Tribune. Mogae said, "We can't let ourselves die and do nothing about it." He said that in addition to a lack of funding to fight HIV/AIDS, Botswana is facing a "critical" shortage of doctors, nurses and pharmaceutical technicians. According to Mogae, African countries should continue to promote prevention as the "main message in the fight against the disease," according to Reuters/Union-Tribune. He said, "The priority is the preventive message, postpone sexual activity as long as one can because there is a killer on the prowl" (Reuters/San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.