Somalia Launches HIV/AIDS Commission To Stem Spread of Epidemic in South, Central Regions of Country
The transitional government of Somalia on Tuesday launched the South Central AIDS Commission in an effort to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in the south and central region of the country, Xinhua/People's Daily reports (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/14). Current United Nations programs in Somalia focus on educating people about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent transmission of the virus, but the "ABC" prevention method -- meaning abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- has met resistance because some Somalians think it promotes promiscuity, which is contrary to the teachings of Islam (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). The commission was launched in the south Somalia region of Baidoa and is expected to work with UNICEF to organize programs in 11 regions of central and south Somalia, according to a UNICEF statement (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/14). "The South Central AIDS Commission is the last of three AIDS commissions that have been set up. The first one in the northwest, second one in the northeast and this one now in the central south," Leo Kenny, UNAIDS country coordinator for Somalia, said (De Capua, VOA News, 3/15). According to Xinhua/People's Daily, the commission will provide a single oversight and evaluation structure and work in collaboration with partners to create an effective prevention, treatment, care and support plan. The commission "will also facilitate resource mobilization and most effective use of current resources from The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, U.N., [Department for International Development] and other donor resources," UNICEF Representative Christian Balslev-Olesen said. "We recognize that HIV/AIDS can derail our efforts to harness our human resources for the reconstruction of our country," Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi said, adding, "Somalis everywhere must be educated on how to protect themselves from the virus, but even more importantly, we must support our brothers and sisters who already are infected so that they are cared for and are not marginalized" (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/14). According to a 2004 World Health Organization survey that looked at pregnant women in antenatal clinics, Somalia's HIV prevalence is estimated to be 0.9%. However, no thorough studies have been conducted in the country because it has not had a central government in 15 years (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.