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 Saturday 01 August 2009
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GLOBAL: Save lives not banks, says Machel

Photo: David Dallaqua/stock.xchng
"Human life is priceless"
CAPE TOWN, 23 July 2009 (PlusNews) - Graca Machel, founder and president of the Foundation for Community Development and an outspoken HIV/AIDS activist, closed the 5th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday with a rousing call to prioritize human lives over bank bail-outs and military spending.

Machel warned that the failure of donor and African governments to make good on their funding promises meant that the goal of universal access to HIV treatment, prevention and care by 2010 was unlikely to be achieved. She laid the blame firmly at the door of political leaders who did not put the health and well-being of their citizens first.

"I don't believe the issue is money," she told the more than 6,000 participants from 123 countries who attended the conference. "The issue is the consciences of the people we elect. Human life is priceless; you should never bargain when it comes to saving lives."

Machel commended the work of delegates, many from the scientific community, who played a vital role in ensuring that "in this part of the world, families no longer spend every weekend attending funerals".

She urged participants to sustain the dramatic progress made in HIV/AIDS treatment, and to continue their efforts to find more effective approaches to prevention.

A major theme of the conference had been the relatively new concept of treatment as prevention, and Machel welcomed the approach and its potential to generate "massive and unprecedented results".

Implementing this approach would take huge injections of money and manpower at a time when the resources to maintain, let alone scale up, HIV/AIDS responses showed signs of drying up, she said. "We have to get [the resources] and we know they can be made available if our priorities are right."

IAS President Dr Julio Montaner pointed out that the United States was the only G8 country to have met its funding commitments to HIV/AIDS. "We call on [US] President Obama to urge the rest of the G8 countries to fulfil their commitments."


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) Economy, (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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