U.N. Secretary-General Calls AIDS ‘Real Weapon of Mass Destruction,’ Urges More Focus on Development Goals in 2004
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday called HIV/AIDS the "real weapon of mass destruction" and said that world leaders should focus more attention on fighting HIV/AIDS, poverty and hunger, which cause "more daily insecurity" than the threat of terrorism or unconventional weapons, the Los Angeles Times reports. During his year-end news conference, Annan said that HIV/AIDS kills 8,000 people each day worldwide and that insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa -- the region most affected by the disease -- will worsen as more resources go to rebuilding Iraq rather than battling the epidemic. "Let's get our priorities right in 2004," Annan said, adding, "Let's make 2004 a year of kept promises" (Farley, Los Angeles Times, 12/19). Governments need to offer more debt relief to developing countries and provide more funds for education, health care, clean water and the global HIV/AIDS fight, Annan said (Reuters/Independent Online, 12/19). He also called for wealthier countries to help the World Health Organization to accomplish its goal of treating three million HIV-positive people with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 and donate more funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 12/18). Annan also said that the world is "losing ground" in accomplishing its Millennium Development Goals, according to the Times. He added that "if the goals are not met, we will all be poorer and less secure" (Los Angeles Times, 12/19). "I would (also) want us to focus on poverty alleviation and the issue of governance and corruption," Annan said, adding, "These are important issues which are on the mind of society" (Agence France-Presse, 12/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.