‘Zuma should woo China for Aids cash’

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South African President Jacob Zuma. File photo: GCIS

Durban - President Jacob Zuma should use his influence to ensure that China donates money to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/Aids.

This call was made at the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa at the weekend by Professor Robert Soundre, chairman of Icasa and the Society for Aids in Africa.

He asked Zuma to use his role in Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to “appeal to China, as the world’s second biggest economic power, to follow in the footsteps of the US government and support the Global Fund”.

The fund announced last week it had secured $12 billion (R124bn) in pledges for the next three years.

Despite massive investment in Africa, China’s contribution to the Global Fund has been negligible. This year it pledged $5 million to $1.65bn by the US.

Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana, said he was deeply concerned that in some African countries donors covered 90 percent of the costs of antiretroviral treatment.

“Resources are dwindling. There is donor and partner fatigue and antiretroviral treatment and prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes are the worst affected,” said Mogae.

“Interruption in drug supply will lead to increased drug resistance - one of the reasons for the tuberculosis explosion.”

UN Aids executive director Michel Sidibe said there’d been “seismic shifts” in the world’s economic landscape. Some African countries had the fastest economic growth. “There needs to be a new partnership to fund Aids with co-financing.”

Sidibe also expressed concern that many African countries had “huge numbers of educated, jobless young people” who were increasingly exposed to recreational drugs and “very vulnerable to HIV infection”. Africa’s discrimination against same-sex relationships was highlighted as an obstacle to addressing HIV.

Activist Cyriaque Ako said same-sex relationships were illegal in 38 African countries.

Health-e News Service

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