MOMBASA, Kenya, Nov 26 (AFP) - President Daniel arap Moi of
Kenya, where AIDS kills 500 people every day, on Thursday
declared the disease a national disaster but declined to
advocate condom use to fight the epidemic.
Addressing the official opening of a four-day AIDS awareness
symposium for legislators here on Thursday, Moi ordered the
immediate setting up of a National AIDS Control Council.
The new council will coordinate the various initiatives already
in place to combat the spread of of Human Immuno-deficiency
Virus (HIV), the virus that leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency
However, Moi said his government and Kenya's churches would not
advocate the use of condoms as a method of prevention, because
this would be tantamount to advocating casual sex among the
"Youths must be made aware of the futility of promiscuous sex,"
he warned. According to one study, condom use has saved more
than 110,000 Kenyans from HIV infection.
As from January, all schools and colleges will give special
lessons aimed at educating children about HIV and AIDS.
Chiefs and their assistants were ordered to form committees of
elders to produce solutions to cultural practices and beliefs
that help the spread of the deadly disease.
The latest move follows a series of initiatives. In 1987, the
government set up an AIDS Programme Secretariat and there is
already a National AIDS/STD Control Programme (NASCOP) within
the health ministry.
In September, NASCOP strongly urged the government to set up a
council with wide-ranging powers.
Non-governmental agencies have also formed a consortium to
fight AIDS. Moi noted with conern that up to 500 Kenyans were
dying daily due to AIDS, and that two million HIV-positive
Kenyans were expected to die in the next 10 years.
Moi termed AIDS/HIV a tragedy to the entire human race and
stressed that it was the most serious challenge to health and
"AIDS is not just a serious threat to our social and economic
development, it is a real threat to our very existence, and
every effort must be made to bring the problem under control,"
Moi told the symposium, attended by some 224 Kenyan members of
"No family in Kenya remains untouched by the effects of the
disease, action is needed to avert a total disaster," Moi said,
noting that those not suffering from the disease were forced to
spend a lot of money in treating their affected relatives and
care for them.
He also urged the courts to deal sternly with people found to
be deliberately spreading HIV.
Caroline Sergent of Britain's Department for International
Development expressed the agency's determination to help Kenya
fight the spread of AIDS, pledging an annual three billion
Kenyan shillings (about 40 million dollars) of British money
over the the next five years.
UN Children's Fund country representative Crispin Wilson
described the AIDS scourge as Africa's undeclared Third World
War and the greatest threat to the continent's future.
Wilson noted that the disease had by 1999 killed an estimated
760,000 people in Kenya and that the number of those infected,
currently about 1.9 million people (of a total population of 30
million), was increasing alarmingly.
He pointed out that 55 percent of those infected were women and
young people. Health Minister Sam Ongeri noted that about half
of all beds in government hospitals were accupied by AIDS
patients, with the worst-affected districts being Busia and
Kisumu in western Kenya.