U.N. Development Program Head Begins Four-Country Tour Of Africa To Promote MDGs

Over the weekend, U.N. Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark began a four-country tour of Africa “to highlight progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the run up to a Summit in September,” Tanzania Daily News/allAfrica.com reports. Clark will make stops in Tanzania, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa, where she will “meet with heads of state and ministers, as well as touch base with women leaders and members of civil society, and visit development projects,” the news service writes.

“In just under 150 days, world leaders will come together in New York for a summit on the MDGs,” Clark said. “The message I want to bring on this trip is that reaching the MDGs is possible, and there this is a range of tried and tested policies which ensure progress, particularly when backed by strong partnerships,” she added (5/2).

Clark kicked off a three-day trip to Mali, where she and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe met with a local NGO that works with people living with HIV/AIDS, the UNDP Newsroom reports (5/3). There, Clark and Sidibe “lauded the country for its progress in expanding HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, stating it can serve as an example to the rest of the continent in tackling the epidemic,” the U.N. News Centre writes.

“According to government estimates, Mali’s HIV prevalence declined from 1.7 percent in 2001 to 1.3 percent in 2006 and about 27,000 people were receiving anti-retroviral treatment in 2009, representing more than 80 percent of those in need,” the U.N. News Centre writes. “UNAIDS estimates that 100,000 people are currently living with HIV in Mali,” according to the publication.

“From what I have read, the strategies in Mali are among the most successful of any country on the continent,” Clark said. “I am sure many are interested to learn from your experience” (5/3).

“In meetings with high-level government officials on May 3-4, including President Amadou Toumani Touré, the executive heads of UNDP and UNAIDS will call for an accelerated national AIDS response in the lead-up to 2015, the target date set by the international community for reaching the [MDGs],” UNAIDS adds. Sidibe is also expected to “reiterate his call for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV” (5/3).

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