Retiring Malawian President Muluzi Announces Launch of New AIDS Foundation
Malawian President Bakili Muluzi on Thursday -- less than two weeks before he is scheduled to step down from his second term as president -- launched a new AIDS foundation, Reuters AlertNet reports (Reuters AlertNet, 5/6). Muluzi, who recently announced that his brother died of AIDS-related causes, said, "I am going into retirement and into the private sector where I belonged to vigorously and actively participate in the fight against AIDS." He added that he launched the Bakili Muluzi AIDS Foundation "to make a small contribution towards the global fight against HIV/AIDS" (Mzembe, Malawi Nation, 5/6). Muluzi also hopes to use the foundation to "consolidate" current efforts to address the disease, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 5/6). Both Muluzi and opposition politician Brown Mpinganjira have spoken publicly about family members affected by HIV/AIDS in an attempt to fight the stigma associated with the disease in Malawi (Reuters AlertNet, 5/6). In addition, Muluzi in February publicly announced that he had been tested for HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/12).
Former Zambian President Calls for More AIDS Funding
Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, whose son died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1986, while speaking at the launch of the foundation encouraged people to disclose their HIV status in an effort to reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma, the Nation reports (Malawi Nation, 5/6). Kaunda also urged Malawians to abstain from sex or use male or female condoms to avoid "sure, quick and cheap death," adding, "Abstinence is the best protection, but the use of condoms must not be condemned" (Reuters AlertNet, 5/6). Kaunda also said that wealthy nations are "failing Africa" in the fight against AIDS and called for additional funding for antiretroviral drugs and improved nutrition, the Associated Press reports (Tenthani, Associated Press, 5/6). Kaunda added that 17 million of the 22 million people who have died of AIDS-related causes worldwide over the past 20 years were Africans. He said, "This is unacceptable and the international community must join forces to reverse this trend" (Malawi Nation, 5/6). Kaunda called on the international community to provide antiretroviral drugs and funds to help buy food for HIV-positive individuals who are malnourished (Xinhua News Agency, 5/6). An estimated 15% of Malawi's 15 million people are HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/12). About 640,000 Malawians have died of AIDS-related illnesses since 1985, according to Mary Kaphwereza Banda, the Malawian minister responsible for HIV/AIDS in the president's office (Malawi Nation, 5/6).