Former Zambian President Urges Zimbabweans To Work Together in Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS
Zimbabweans should set aside their political and religious differences in order to more effectively fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda on Thursday told attendees of Zimbabwe's first-ever national AIDS conference, AFP/Sunday Times reports (AFP/Sunday Times, 6/18). "Why are we allowing politics, ethnicity, religion, these divisions to stop us from fighting together?" Kaunda, whose son died of AIDS-related causes in 1986, asked, adding, "Let us come together, let us fight together and destroy this thing before it destroys us. This thing doesn't know politics, this thing doesn't know religion. It kills across these artificial divisions" (Chinaka, Reuters, 6/17). The conference, titled "Taking Stock: Looking into the Future," is examining Zimbabwe's progress in treating and preventing HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/17). Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during a speech at the conference on Wednesday called the epidemic "one of the greatest challenges facing our nation." However, he added that HIV/AIDS "is not an insurmountable challenge. We can and should rise above this challenge and win the fight" (AFP/Sunday Times, 6/18). More than 3,000 people die of AIDS-related causes each week in Zimbabwe, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world at 24.9%. Earlier this year, the Zimbabwean government announced a pilot project to distribute antiretroviral drugs at no cost to patients in select government hospitals. According to officials, about 70% of patients in Zimbabwe's hospitals are HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.