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AIDS society speaks on HIV prevention

AIDS society speaks on HIV prevention

At the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York last week, world leaders reviewed progress on the ‘eight goals’ agreed in 2000; geared towards alleviating world poverty and ill-health by 2015.

As the summit closed, governments, businesses and aid organizations made commitments totaling $40bn so as to reach the targeted goals as forenamed.

Emphasis on the improvement of maternal and child health was core to donating organizations at the summit.

A global strategy for women’s and children’s health, focused on reducing maternal and child deaths, empowering women and achieving equality, was announced by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon.

“AIDS remains the leading cause of death for women of child-bearing age globally and as such has posed a serious impediment to progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, particularly in sub-Sahara African countries,” were the words of stakeholders during deliberations.

The International AIDS Society (IAS) calls on governments and donors to accept that success in improving the health of pregnant women, and children under five, is inter-reliant with the battle against HIV.

While the world must intensify efforts and funding to address all causes of maternal and child mortality, indications of a flagging commitment to scaling up of HIV services are of particular concern, given that HIV prevention and treatment services have demonstrated a tangible impact on maternal and child mortality and morbidity in many hyper endemic countries in Africa.

“Highly effective programmes for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) exist already, requiring no specific breakthrough work or research that is not already there,” said IAS President, Elly Katabira.

Adding “In 2008, around 45 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women received antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to prevent HIV transmission to their children, an increase from the 35 percent that were treated in 2007. Further scale-up for HIV-positive pregnant women could easily be achieved, if only financial commitments to Universal Access to HIV treatment are realized.”

The MDG summit provided a platform for a number of key donors to announce their pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which will be hosting a 3rd Voluntary Replenishment meeting in October.

France pledged $1.4 billion, Canada $540 million, Norway $225 million and Japan pledged $800 million.

The Global Fund has developed three funding scenarios ranging from US$13 – US$20 billion for the replenishment period 2011-2013.

It is only the third scenario with a commitment of $20 billion from international donors that would allow the global Fund to significantly scale up programming and bring the world closer to reaching the health related MDGs.

By Fredica Momoh

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