Alarm over high HIV prevalence
Published on May 5, 2008, 12:00 am
By Harold Ayodo
African scientists have challenged governments to revamp primary healthcare in the continent.
The experts, who met at a Kisumu conference, raised concerns over the high rate of HIV/Aids prevalence and child mortality.
Dr Vincent Agu said there were 2.5 million reported cases of HIV/Aids in the continent last year alone.
“Latest statistics from the World Health Organisation show 33.2 million people are infected with HIV/Aids globally – 68 per cent of the cases in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Agu, the director of the Sahara South Africa.
Though Africa lacks competent scholars, Dr Agu said, universities should join the war against diseases through research.
The scientists urged Africa to take charge of its healthcare systems to fight diseases.
“Governments must now take radical steps and revamp public healthcare,” said Prof David Sanders from University of Western Cape.
He urged states to adopt cheaper means of combating diseases.
“Fresh studies showed that washing of hands with soap before meals reduced cases of diarrhoea by between 32 per cent and 43 per cent,” Sanders said.
The scientists from across the continent were speaking during the Fifth Annual Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development in Africa conference.
Meanwhile, the UN has released a report on the progress made in the fight against HIV/Aids in the last seven years.
Released by the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, the report says by end of last year, 33. 2 million people globally were living with HIV/Aids.
“An estimated 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV/Aids and 2.1 million succumbed to the disease,” said part of the report.
Among the key findings is that last year, national surveys found that 40 per cent of young males, (ages 15-24) and 36 per cent of female had accurate knowledge on HIV/Aids.
The report is based on reports on member states submitted to the UNAids in January.
–ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MANGOA MOSOTA AND EMMAH ONDITI