Southern African Development Community Discusses New Regional Strategy for Fighting HIV/AIDS at Meeting
Officials from the 13 member nations of the Southern African Development Community this week at a nine-day summit in Mauritius are expected to discuss a new strategy for fighting HIV/AIDS in the region, Xinhua News Agency reports (Ren/Chen, Xinhua News Agency, 8/14). Government leaders from Angola, Botswana, Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected to attend the meeting (Xinhua News Agency, 8/16). Almost two-thirds of the world's HIV-positive people live in sub-Saharan Africa (Chinaka, Reuters, 8/16). More than one in three people ages 15-49 in Botswana and Swaziland are HIV-positive, and more than one in five adults are HIV-positive in Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. SADC Executive Secretary Prega Ramsamy said that SADC has developed a five-year plan to streamline regional efforts to fight the disease in the region. The plan includes efforts to coordinate prevention, treatment and capacity-building policies and integrate SADC policies and programs into all HIV/AIDS efforts, Ramsamy said, according to Xinhua News Agency.
In addition, the plan calls for bringing all regional policies on mother-to-child HIV transmission in line with SADC policies. SADC also is working on developing a regional program to address joint procurement of prescription drugs to treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. SADC during the summit also plans to address regional generic drug production, streamline antiretroviral drug policies and enhance the sharing of technical information and resources on HIV/AIDS among member countries. "We continue to underscore the importance of a regional response to HIV/AIDS to complement national initiatives given that the pandemic is trans-boundary," Ramsamy said (Xinhua News Agency, 8/14). Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said that SADC should address AIDS as a political, social and economic crisis because the region is losing trained professionals and leaders at a faster rate than new ones can be trained (Reuters, 8/16).