Africa’s Great Lakes Region Ministers Propose Joint Initiative To Address HIV/AIDS Among Member Nations
Ministers from Africa's Great Lakes region this week at a conference in Mombasa, Kenya, announced the creation of a joint intervention program to address HIV/AIDS among member nations, the East African Standard reports. The project, launched under the Great Lakes Initiative on AIDS, primarily will target refugees, internally displaced populations, returning refugees and surrounding communities at selected GLIA locations in member countries, John Munyes, GLIA chair and Kenyan minister for special programs, said. The program also aims to reach long-distance drivers along Kenya's northern corridor and already has registered nine refugee camps in the region, including Kakuma in Kenya, he added. The initiative likely will reach an estimated six million people living with HIV and more than three million children who are orphaned by or vulnerable to the disease.
Munyes also called on member states to support regional organizations in their efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, noting that mobility of people across borders has increased the vulnerability to and spread of communicable diseases and HIV/AIDS. He said reaching out to long-distance drivers is "absolutely necessary" because the drivers interact with communities along highways. Munyes said that the joint intervention is meant to add value to the local strategies in the fight against HIV.
According to Munyes, the Kenyan government aims to reduce its HIV prevalence to below 5.5% by 2010. National Aids Control Council Chair Miriam Were, as well as ministers from Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, also addressed the conference.
GLIA has received 1.4 billion Kenyan shillings, or about $20 million, from the World Bank's International Development Association to support the initiative during the next four years, the Standard reports (Beja, East African Standard, 7/27). According to GLIA Chief Executive Joseph Wakana, the money would benefit programs in Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda (Mayoyo, Nation/AllAfrica.com, 7/26). Wakana said that officials plan to work closely with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees at the selected refugee camps across borders (East African Standard, 7/27).