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Call to declare an HIV/AIDS state of emergency

Posted on: August 22, 2001 5:39 PM
Related Categories: Southern Africa

All governments in Africa are being called on to declare an HIV/AIDS state of emergency as one of several aspects of a plan developed at the All Africa Anglican Conference on HIV-Aids in Boksburg this week.

Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane, TODAY (Thursday) presented plans to facilitate a generation without AIDS.

"As in a state of war, all government agencies should be in a state of alert" he said.

"The issue should not just be domesticated in the health department. It affects all of us across the board."

Condoms had featured very little during debate but the church recognised that their use was "the greater good or lesser of two evils" for people who were unable to be faithful to one partner.

"This is not to encourage promiscuity, not in any way to advertise - use condoms."

He said the church's calling was for people to abstain from sex or to be faithful.

"But we realise that we live in a real world with human imperfection. Our vocation as Anglican Christians is to save souls but we must also save lives".

Other responses to recommendations from delegates, laid out in a planning framework document titled "Our Vision, Our Hope: First Step" included offering HIV and Aids sufferers pastoral care and counselling and providing support to orphans of the disease.

"We commit to being central to networks of community support, to meet the health care and basic needs of those who are orphaned, ill or excluded due to HIV, freeing them to productive life as long as their health permits," reads the document.

Other focuses would be on transforming traditions and practices, such as burials, that consume scarce resources and contribute to denial about Aids, leadership to stigmatisation and education and training.

"We hope this will enable us to deal with this pandemic once and for all," said Ndungane.

Along with church representatives from Africa were representatives of donor communities and pharmaceutical companies and other key stakeholders.

Warren W Buckingham, senior technical adviser on HIV-Aids for the United States Agency for International Development's Africa Bureau's Office of Sustainable Development said faith-based parties were often "the strongest partner at community level" to promote prevention of a disease like Aids.

Sandra Swan of the Episcopal Relief and Development, also based in the USA, called the initiative "unique" and an opportunity to create partnerships and hope.