November 1, 2000
"The comparative advantage of South-South cooperation is a priceless commodity in the fight against AIDS," Dr. Piot said. "Its benefits have been realized between adjacent countries, in subregional cooperation, at regional level and across regions. It can be used to good effect in planning, mobilization, partnership building and capacity strengthening." Dr. Piot was the keynote speaker at the African Seminar on Health Development, being held here today and tomorrow.
The seminar is expected to promote South-South cooperation on HIV/AIDS by having Asian, Latin American, and African countries share their experiences on effective responses to HIV/AIDS. It is also expected to produce cooperative networks that help in the planning and administration of HIV/AIDS programmes, and strengthen the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa.
"The International Partnership is the largest example of intensified South-South cooperation in the response to the AIDS epidemic," Dr. Piot said. "This Partnership is neither a project nor a new organization but a coalition under the leadership of African governments, bringing them together with donors, the private sector, the community sector and the UN system around this single issue."
"The Partnership has proved a powerful lever for generating a more effective and sustained national response to AIDS on the African continent and today, AIDS figures as a national issue, no longer the exclusive responsibility of the health sector."
"South-South cooperation is preeminently a 21st century strategy," Dr. Piot added. "It is a knowledge strategy, which recognizes that partners sharing knowledge become more powerful and effective. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than the emerging influence of South to South contact as a strategy to drive down the price of AIDS drugs."
The Japanese government has been consistently proactive on AIDS, both in the Asia-Pacific region and more widely, and plans to maintain its efforts to roll back the epidemic. In 1998, the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) adopted the Tokyo Agenda for Action on priorities in social development, economic development and foundation for development such as good governance. Since then, Japan has maintained its push and taken various follow-up measures, including this seminar, to enhance South-South cooperation.
Japan also announced last August a "Medium-Term Policy on Official Development Assistance" that will underpin all official aid from Japan for the next five years. The policy stresses the importance of human security, which faces the risk of being undermined by the AIDS epidemic.
At the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in July, 2000, HIV/AIDS in Africa was discussed and included in the final communiqué. The government of Japan also launched a major initiative at the summit, pledging to allocate US$3 billion over the next five years to fight infectious diseases.
Participants from Africa, Asia and Latin America are taking part in the seminar, which comes at a time when the AIDS epidemic continues unabated. Already, 18.8 million people around the world have died of AIDS, 3.8 million of them children. Nearly twice that many -- 34.3 million -- are now living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 1999 alone, 5.4 million people were newly infected with HIV.
In sub-Saharan Africa, there are now 16 countries in which more than one-tenth of the adult population aged 15-49 is infected with HIV. In seven countries, all in the southern cone of the continent, at least one adult in five is living with the virus.