ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
- called on Thursday for an all-out war against the
AIDS epidemic in Africa, telling the
continent's leaders it must be their top priority.
Annan told a conference in the Ethiopian capital that the world
had been too slow to respond to the epidemic that has already
killed about 15 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and
infected another 25 million.
Apart from the enormous cost in lives, Annan said AIDS was now
a major obstacle to tackling poverty across the developing
world and could pose a threat to its political stability.
But he insisted there was still time to halt and even reverse
its continued spread.
"In the face of such multiple burdens, our response must be
comprehensive -- a war on many fronts. We need a complete
social mobilization against AIDS," Annan told the conference
of African government officials, U.N. agencies and private
He said the world was ready to throw billions of dollars into
fighting the spread of AIDS, but African governments must make
sure the money is spent where it is most needed and can do most
HOW MANY GENERATIONS WILL SUFFER?
"The question is not whether more people will die. More people
will die. The question is how many generations will suffer as
ours is doing today: and how many generations will be saddled
with a spreading virus, catastrophic economic and social
losses, and heart-breaking, pervasive loss of life."
Almost one in 10 adults in sub-Saharan Africa has the disease,
with the numbers rising to more than one-third of adults in
Botswana, the world's worst affected nation.
Some 3.8 million African children and adults were infected this
year alone, although that was slightly below the number of new
cases last year -- the first decline since AIDS surfaced in the
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose government is widely
seen as one of the most successful in fighting AIDS, said here
on Thursday that too many Africans sit back and wait for the
outside world to solve their problems.
He called on the region's leaders to educate their people about
the disease and also pool resources to invest in developing and
manufacturing drugs to treat AIDS sufferers.
"The onus is on us to play the major role in fighting
HIV/AIDS, and we shall be most effective if we fight it
together," Museveni said. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for
three-quarters of the people killed by AIDS worldwide and over
70 percent of those now suffering from the disease, but Annan
said it is also spreading quickly in India, Eastern Europe and
"Unless we act in these regions, they could end up facing a
crisis comparable to what we already see in many parts of
Africa," he said.