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Advocates Ask Donor Nations, African Governments To Maintain Health Commitments As WEF On Africa Starts

As the 2010 World Economic Forum on Africa begins Wednesday in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, advocates from more than 10 African countries plan to “stage a demonstration” highlighting the need for funding for HIV/AIDS and other diseases, health-e reports (Thom, 5/5).

Members of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), who will participate in the demonstration, said their intent is to send a message to world leaders at the forum, The Citizen reports. Paula Akugizibwe, ARASA’s executive director, “said the protest came in the wake of increasing political hostility towards funding universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care that had repeatedly been promised by leaders around the world,” according to the publication.

“Clear public and social economic gains do not appear to have convinced donors on the need to sustain scaled-up of HIV programmes,” Akugizibwe said. Some countries’ programs have already been affected by limited funds, she noted. “In Nigeria, for instance, the cutbacks have affected the supply of test kits, restricting access of new clients to testing and treatment of the disease,” she said, adding that reports from Uganda indicate that some HIV-positive people have not been able to start treatment (Lugongo/Nachilongo, 5/5).    

According to health-e, the “demonstration has been planned to convey the message to regional and global leaders that their backtracking on universal access and other health commitments is … an unwise public health and economic decision, as economies cannot prosper unless their citizens are healthy.” The news service also reports that “[a] memo detailing civil society’s concerns will be handed over to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s director of external relations, as well as the Tanzanian government’s Commissioner of Health, who will convey these messages at the World Economic Forum” (5/5).

Meanwhile at the forum, the “African Development Bank plans to fund more power projects on the continent to help ease an electricity shortage that’s hindering faster economic growth,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes. In November, the World Bank said Africa must spend $93 billion per year on power, water and transport to reduce poverty on the continent.  

“The appetite for this type of a project has really risen,” Tim Turner, director of private sector initiatives at the bank, said at the meeting in Tanzania. “A year ago, we couldn’t get any response.”

The news service writes: “Infrastructure development is a key concern being discussed at the conference. Rapid urbanization has led to 72 percent of Africa’s population living in slum settlements in cities and towns, Anna Tibaijuka, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program, told reporters in Dar es Salaam today” (Bonorchis/Seria, 5/5).

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