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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:28, April 25, 2007
UNESCO fights HIV/AIDS in southern Africa's education sector
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The United Nations (UN) agency responsible for education is spearheading a program aimed at helping southern African countries fight HIV/AIDS in the education sector, a senior official said Tuesday.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) representative at the Harare office in Zimbabwe, Juma Shabani, said his organization has lined up a number of activities aimed at building capacity for countries in the region in fighting the pandemic in the education sector.

"The activities have been planned and are being implemented as steps in continuing strategic action on education and HIV/AIDS," the official said at a sub-regional HIV/AIDS skills building meeting.

He said the UNESCO was keen to support countries in the region to move towards universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention programs, treatment, care and support.

Though statistics on the impact of the pandemic on the education sector in the region vary, the high prevalence rates in the region have affected all sectors in the countries.

The region has prevalence rates as high as 35 percent in some countries while the rate for Zambia stands at 16 percent.

The four-day meeting is expected to come up with country- specific action programs for accelerating the fight against the pandemic and the development of comprehensive national education sector responses to HIV/AIDS.

UNESCO chief programs officer in the Zambia office Felicitas Chinanda said the region can not relent in searching for solutions to the HIV problem which is still daunting the sub-region.

"It is not enough to be satisfied with the usual ordinary approaches. HIV/AIDS is an extraordinary disease which needs extraordinary interventions," she said.

Zambian Education Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa said it would be difficult for countries in the region to attain the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if the HIV/AIDS problem is not tackled.

He pointed out that the major obstacle the sub-region faces in the fight against HIV/AIDS is the erratic and limited availability of resources.

Source: Xinhua

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