Mozambique Declares Fight Against HIV/AIDS ‘National Emergency’ in Five-Year Program
Mozambique has declared the fight against HIV/AIDS a "national emergency" in a five-year control program that the country's parliament currently is considering, AIM/AllAfrica.com reports. Mozambique has an HIV prevalence rate of 14.9% among people ages 15 to 49, and 1.4 million HIV-positive people are estimated to be living in the country, 60% of whom are women. Health authorities also estimate that about 500 new HIV infections occur daily in the country. "This situation implies reduced life expectancy and a loss of the human capital that contributes to economic growth and household subsistence," the control program document states. In an effort to curb the number of daily new infections to 350 by 2009 and 150 by 2014, the control strategy will aim to:
- Target specific groups with HIV/AIDS awareness materials in native Mozambican languages and Portuguese and incorporate these materials into education plans in the country;
- Recruit Mozambicans with "special prestige" to serve as advocates, according to AIM/AllAfrica.com;
- Increase the distribution of male condoms and promote the use of female condoms;
- Improve biosecurity in the health sector to reduce the risk of HIV transmission through contaminated blood;
- Train traditional healers in blood safety methods;
- Increase the number of HIV-positive people who receive antiretrovirals under the government's program to 150,000 by 2009 from about 6,000 currently;
- Strengthen legal measures to protect people living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination;
- Encourage HIV-positive people to "come forward" and "take part in the fight against stigma and discrimination," according to AIM/AllAfrica.com;
- Provide tax incentives to businesses that implement programs to fight HIV/AIDS and stem its consequences; and
- Increase awareness among journalists and media in the country (AIM/AllAfrica.com, 3/22).
World Leaders Call for Increased Donor Coordination, Leadership
Leaders from Norway, the United Kingdom, Sweden, UNAIDS and the World Bank on Wednesday called for increased donor coordination and governmental leadership to strengthen Mozambique's response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to a joint release. Norwegian Minister for International Development Hilde Johnson, World Bank Vice President for Africa Gobind Nankani, Permanent Secretary of the U.K. Department for International Development Suma Chakrabarti, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot and Director-General for Development Cooperation at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Ruth Jacoby spoke at a press conference Wednesday during a two-day trip to Mozambique. During the visit, they met with representatives from the government, civil society and donor agencies to examine ways to improve donor coordination, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The international leaders also called on the government to increase care for all people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, as well as children who have lost one or both of their parents to the disease. The country's National AIDS Control Council also must be strengthened to spend financial resources effectively, the leaders said, adding that regular reviews of Mozambique's strategic HIV/AIDS plan should be carried out to ensure that the country's response "keeps pace with the evolving nature of the epidemic," according to the release (Joint release, 3/23).