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|Thursday, August 10, 2000, updated at 08:50(GMT+8)|
African Officials Discuss Strategies on HIV/AIDSAbout 100 senior officials from east, central and southern African countries gathered Nairobi on Wednesday to discuss strategies for the fight against AIDS pandemic.
The conference, organized by the Commonwealth Regional Health Community Secretariat for East, Central and Southern Africa (CRHCS), is aimed at mobilizing resources for an expanded response to HIV/AIDS.
The effect of HIV/AIDS is an additional burden to the already overburdened sub-Saharan African countries, compared with other developing countries, CRHCS Regional Secretary Steven Shongwe told participants of the conference.
"However, the external debt service consumes large proportion of total gross domestic product (GDP), implying diversion of national resources required to undertake interventions in the crusade against HIV/AIDS and other social expenditure," Shongwe said.
Zambia, for example, spends 30 percent of its GDP in debt service and only 2 percent in social sectors, he noted.
Efforts and mechanism must be sought to mobilize additional resources to effectively respond to the challenges of the pandemic, he said.
Kenyan Permanent Secretary for the Health Ministry Julius Meme told reporters that he was confident that the spread of AIDS would be stemmed if the government and its people adopt sound strategies against the scourge.
Officials from 11 countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, attended the three-day conference.On Thursday and Friday the ministerial session will be held.
The sub-Saharan Africa is worst hit by AIDS, with the HIV infection rate in most countries of the region above 10 percent among adults.
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