Queen Elizabeth Visits Uganda HIV/AIDS Clinic, Praises Country’s Efforts To Combat Disease
Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which opened on Friday, Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday praised efforts of health organizations and the Ugandan government to combat the spread of HIV in the country, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/22). Queen Elizabeth also visited a clinic and children's hospital run by U.K.-based charity Mildmay.
Queen Elizabeth in a speech to members of Uganda's parliament and President Yoweri Museveni said the "scourge of HIV infection and AIDS has touched the lives of so many of Uganda's people," adding, "Yet there are growing numbers of people and organizations whose work gives cause for real hope." The role of centers such as the Mildmay-run clinic will be "central to achieving our common aim of controlling" HIV/AIDS, Queen Elizabeth said. Museveni in a speech praised Uganda's partnership with the United Kingdom, adding that the country is "ready to work with Britain on a range of global issues" (Jones, Press Association, 11/22).
Commonwealth Countries Should Take Action Against HIV/AIDS, Group Says
In related news, Para 55, also known as the Commonwealth Action Group on HIV and AIDS, on Saturday called on countries in the Commonwealth of Nations to take action against HIV/AIDS and provide universal access to antiretroviral drugs, Xinhua News Agency reports. According to statistics, Commonwealth countries account for 60% of the global HIV/AIDS burden and are home to the majority of AIDS orphans.
The group urged Commonwealth leaders in their final document to be released following the Heads of Government Meeting, which ended on Nov. 25, to "make a bold commitment to work together and take action to deliver on improved health for all and keep the promise" to achieve "all health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015." The group also called on member states to fully utilize World Trade Organization provisions that secure access to affordable drugs, Xinhua News Agency reports.
Anton Kerr, deputy chair of Para 55, said, "Greater collaboration among Commonwealth member states is needed to overcome key barriers, including appropriate levels of financing, to realize the promise to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010." Richard Matikanya of Para 55 said, "It is only through a determined, comprehensive and collective response by Commonwealth member states that we can significantly turn the tide against HIV and deliver the promise of universal access" (Xinhua News Agency, 11/24).