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AIDS under renewed attack

By Tumusiime K. Deo | November 30th 2015

Johannesburg, South Africa, 27 /11/2015: Members of the Private Sector and Parliamentarians from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have renewed their commitment to deal a final blow to the monster AIDS by the Year 2030. The commitment was made at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Johannesburg South Africa, during their Dialogue with the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation.

Appreciating the need for shared responsibility and African solidarity, the Private Sector members identified as critical the need to start locally producing Anti-retroviral Drugs, which would in turn fast track access and also enhance affordability. To do this however, needs a sizeable amount of capital investment, which some identified as an encumbrance. The reliance on foreign funding did not help the situation either, as funders tend to have their own dictated priorities.

Addressing the Dialogue, former Uganda Vice President and Champion Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe warned Africans to STOP begging from the West, adding that Africa has enough resources to self and sustainably fund her health priorities. She figuratively stated, “If God has given me hands, given me legs and a functioning brain; why should I go begging?”

In his turn, former Nigeria President Champion Olusegun Obasanjo re-echoed the call for self-financing saying that if all top citizens were to save only 13 Rand off their hotel expenses and other luxuries, this would generate so much money to support the fight against AIDS and other priorities. He called for increased innovation particularly from the Private Sector, warning that “If we let off, the epidemic will spread again like wild fire”.

Indeed as noted by Former South Africa President Champion Kgalema Motlanthe in his opening remarks, the Private Sector has a whole range of important skills and resources, that can be tapped into in the fight against AIDS. He said that the same skills that have been used to promote music, sports in all its dialects, drama, industry, banking and business in all its forms, can be harnessed to leverage the struggle.

At the end of the Dialogue, the Private Sector representatives identified key focus areas, chief among them enterprise towards local production of AIDS drugs. Others include; innovation and accountable frameworks, Public Private Partnerships, Scorecard for Private Sector engagement, Empirical Research, and leveraging Arts and Sports.

The Champions for an HIV Free Generation, is a distinguished group of former Presidents and influential African Leaders committed to an AIDS-Free generation. Individually and collectively, champions rally and support regional leaders towards ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat. Presently the Champions are: H.E Festus Mogae of Botswana, H.E Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, H.E Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali, H.E Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, H.E Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, H.E Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa, H.E Joyce Banda of Malawi, H.E Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe of Uganda, H.E Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Prof. Miriam Were of Kenya, and Edwin Cameron of South Africa.

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