Inaugural Meeting of African HIV/AIDS Campaign Examines Components of Successful Fight Against Disease
The most crucial elements in the fight against HIV/AIDS are the building of institutions, structures and leadership, Christopher Molomo, national coordinator of Botswana's National AIDS Coordinating Agency, said at this week's inaugural meeting of the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation, Mmegi/AllAfrica.com reports (Ookeditse, Mmegi/AllAfrica.com, 9/15).
Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation was launched last month at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City by former leaders of Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as other well-known African figures. The initiative aims to put pressure on politicians whom participants believe have not done enough to fight HIV/AIDS. The initiative calls for more government actions and public education campaigns to prevent new HIV cases in countries where up to one in four people are living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6).
At the inaugural meeting, Molomo said that Botswana has adopted the principles of the "three ones" in coordinating HIV/AIDS efforts. "We follow the 'three ones' principle, which is having one agreed HIV/AIDS action framework, one national AIDS authority and one agreed country level monitoring and evaluation system," Molomo said, adding that this helps coordinate responses and monitor and evaluate efforts aimed at curbing HIV/AIDS. He also said that although the National AIDS Council is in charge of monitoring the national response to HIV/AIDS, it is important to have decentralized structures fighting HIV/AIDS in district councils as well as village-level committees.
In addition, Molomo said one of the most critical institutional players in the fight against HIV/AIDS is a country's parliament. "Parliament is important at the central level," Molomo said, adding that Botswana's Parliamentary Subcommittee on AIDS ensures that HIV/AIDS issues are brought to the attention of parliament and receive advocacy. Momolo also said that leadership is an important part of HIV/AIDS efforts because lack of a willing leadership will prevent progress in the fight against the disease. "Leadership is supposed to give accountability and direction," he said (Mmegi/AllAfrica.com, 9/15).
In related news, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda last week at a workshop held ahead of the inaugural meeting praised former Botswana President and Chair of the Champions for an AIDS-Free Generation Festus Mogae for his work to bring African leaders together to fight HIV/AIDS, Mmegi/AllAfrica.com reports. "The deliberations were not easy," Kaunda said, adding,"[B]ut the champions rose to the challenge." Kaunda added, "Champions do what is right even when it hurts. Champions know winning is not necessarily measured by the final score. They take a stand even if they stand alone. Champions may fail, but they never quit" (Keoreng, Mmegi/AllAfrica.com, 9/16).
Mogae "might be out of office, but he is continuing his legacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS," a Mmegi/AllAfrica.com editorial says. According to the editorial, the meeting last week was a "good initiative by Mogae and all those who are with him in the group."
During his time as president, Mogae sought to fight HIV/AIDS "at a time when many leaders were still shy to speak openly" about the disease, the editorial says, adding that Botswana consequently "stood out as an example of how a country which is badly affected by the epidemic can stem the tide. Botswana is now counted among the countries which are winning the fight against HIV/AIDS. The current initiative of Mogae and his group will go a long way in helping to address the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa and the world" (Mmegi/AllAfrica.com, 9/16).