African and Newfoundland activists share strategies.
Eurythmics star Annie Lennox speaks out
Health Minister Tony Clement received thousands of emails from Oxfam Canada and Make Poverty History supporters over the past week, calling for new initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS. At the International AIDS conference in August, Mr. Clement promised quick action, but no announcement has been forthcoming.
€œWhere is the accountability for the 750,000 women, men and children who have died from AIDS-related causes since Mr. Clement made his promise? asked Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. 'Canadians know we can't solve the crisis, but we certainly expect the government to do its part to stem the tide of suffering and death.
Oxfam supporters urged the government to pay Canada's fair share of AIDS prevention, care and treatment in developing countries by:
- providing 5% of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria through 2010 (up from 3.5%)
- doubling current funding for vaccines and microbicides research, and
- setting a timetable for raising total aid from 0.4% to 0.7% of national income.
'Besides paying our fair share, the government must remove the red tape preventing the export of affordable generic medicines to poor countries, Fox added. 'In the two years since Parliament unanimously approved such exports, not a single pill has reached anyone, while over six million people have died, in large part because they couldn't afford the medicine.
Eurythmics star Annie Lennox spoke on behalf of Oxfam's AIDS work: 'Poor countries are being forced to deal with an unprecedented health crisis without the means to tackle it. Governments can only show how seriously they are taking this crisis by taking immediate action.
Meanwhile, two community AIDS activists from Lesotho and Zimbabwe arrived yesterday in St. John's to share tools and strategies for coping with HIV/AIDS among women with the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador, in a project sponsored by Oxfam Canada. The women will also visit Canadian AIDS workers in Toronto and Ottawa before returning home. Oxfam will host a Toronto breakfast with Voices of Positive Women and Business Professional Women on the pandemic's affects on women and girls.
'We need to scale up efforts to provide care and treatment, said Ednah Bhala, director of Musasa Project, a Zimbabwean NGO which seeks to end gender violence which spreads the disease. 'Canada must realize we cannot do this on our own. We need their assistance and that assistance must be for the long term.
Nthati Matsela Manyanye, a nurse, midwife and primary health care practitioner at the Morija Hospital in Lesotho, spoke of the importance of World AIDS Day. 'World AIDS Day gives hope to people living with HIV/AIDS because they see they are not forgotten, she said. 'We need to reinforce the knowledge people have about HIV/AIDS and encourage people everywhere to take action to stop its spread.