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Annan Urges Middle East Funds To Anti-Aids Fight

Annan Urges Countries In Middle East, North Africa To Provide Funds To Anti-Aids Fight

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa have an unprecedented opportunity to help the international community in securing resources for the global fight against AIDS, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message to ministers gathered in Morocco.

“I call on the region’s Governments not only to review their domestic budgets devoted to AIDS, TB and malaria, but also to assess how their overseas development assistance can be mobilized to meet the global challenge posed by AIDS and other development issues,” he said in the message to the Marrakech meeting of the Global Fund set up to fight those diseases.

The Secretary-General pointed out that HIV is spreading in the region, citing UN statistics indicating that 67,000 new infections are expected in the Middle East and North Africa this year.

In his message, delivered by UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot, the Secretary-General urged participants to address not only funding needs but also the dangerous culture of shame surrounding the disease. “I hope you will grasp the opportunity afforded by this High-Level Session to marshal the political commitment needed to tackle this challenge, and, in particular, to confront the stigma, denial and discrimination that helps fuel the spread of HIV,” he said.

Broadening the perspective, he added that building greater sustainability in funding the response to HIV/AIDS “must be an important goal for us all.” And pledged the UN’s full backing for the Global Fund.

“Let us spare no effort in our work to accelerate the delivery of life-saving programmes to the people who need them most.”

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