PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni and his Senegalese counterpart Abdoulaye Wade signed a partnership deal with UNAIDS and several non-governmental organisations in New York to eliminate HIV mother-to-child transmission in Africa.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told a press conference on Monday evening that the idea for the partnership was inspired by Ugandaâ€™s commitment to fight inequalities and insecurity.
â€œThese inequalities translated into brutalities for women.
â€œWhen I was in Uganda, I visited a trauma centre in Gulu where I met children abducted by notorious rebel leader Kony,â€ Sidibe said.
â€œI met a young girl who was pregnant and with HIV/AIDS and as I was leaving, she asked me, â€˜why me, what did I do to deserve this!â€™ This brutality should stop.â€
Museveni, who gave an extensive presentation on the effects of the pandemic on communities in Africa, said poverty, disease and hunger continue to be major obstacles in the fight against the disease in many countries in Africa, making it difficult to achieve some millennium goals.
â€œI want to thank the scientists and academicians for thinking out this project which will provide integrated help for the villages to escape from abject poverty. Now is the time to move from rhetoric to practice,â€ he said according to a statement from State House.
President Museveni said improved agriculture, environmental protection, health, infrastructure, energy and communication make it possible for people to live meaningful lives. He urged the partnership to expand the project from the village level to the district levels to expand the initiative.
The deal was signed as world leaders gathered in New York for this weekâ€™s UN General Assembly session, which aims to accelerate action on HIV/AIDS and â€œcorrect the glaring inequalityâ€ faced by children in the face of the scourge, said Sidibe.
Rolling back the AIDS pandemic is one of eight poverty-reduction Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015 as decided by world leaders at their 2000 summit.
Sidibe said out of the two million AIDS-related deaths last year, 1.9 million occurred in developing countries, including 1.7 million in Africa.
More than 300,000 babies are born every year with the virus, most of them in Africa and 30 percent of them died before their first birthday, he added.
Africa has the lowest coverage of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, with only 34% of HIV-infected mothers receiving any anti-retroviral drugs to prevent passing on the virus to their children.
The agreement signed on Monday aims to prevent women of child-bearing age from acquiring HIV infection. It also wants to prevent unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV.
In addition, the agreement aims at providing care, treatment and support to mothers living with HIV, their children and their families.
Signatories include Columbia University's Earth Institute, led by leading US economist Jeffrey Sachs, and the Millennium Promise Alliance, an advocacy group pushing for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.
Museveni starts Africa AIDS plan