By Sola Ogundipe
IF there is one thing African governments need to do to ensure that their efforts in tackling the menace of the HIV & AIDS pandemic is more effective, it is for them to be more committed and realistic in approach, particularly in the face of the current global economic meltdown.
Giving this indication weekend in Lagos, during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SAA and the Ethiopian government for the hosting of the 16th International Conference on AIDS & STIs in Africa (ICASA), President of the Society for AIDS in Africa (SAA), Prof Femi SoyinkaÂ said African governments needed to back their commitment to the cause of HIV & AIDS with requisite action.
Soyinka, who is also Chairman of the Transition Committee of the Society however lamented that Africa still had a long way to go in curtailing the impact of the pandemic.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t give a pass mark to Africa in view of the many gaps in prevention, care and support, treatment and generally improving the lot of People Living With HIV & AIDS. The current prevalence rate tells us we still have a lot to do and we are doing little in the area of vaccine and drug researchÂ but the 16th ICASA in 2011 will be a good platform to learn more.
Noting that prevention remained the most effective cure for HIV, Soyinka said: â€œWe need commitment backed with action. We need to get to the roots, find the factors that are propelling the prevalence. Tuberculosis is an issue, we are not doing enough about TB and the fact that we are mainly dependent on donors is not encouraging. We need to look inwards.â€
The MOU was to confer the hosting rights of the 16th ICASA to Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in 2011. Ethiopia emerged victorious in the race to the hosting of the biannual event following a rigorous evaluation. Factors such as the issues of relevance, stability, communication, security, NGO presence of strong scientific including strong government commitment in the anti-HIV & AIDS fight.
Signing the MOU on behalf of the his government, Ethiopian State Minister of Health, Dr. Kebede Worku said the hosting of the 16th ICASA would enable the country share experience while serving as motivation to other African governments to devote more attention and commitment to the issue of HIV & AIDS including other health related issues.