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Press Release

UNAIDS Congratulates Tanzania for Speedy Action on AIDS

Pledges Support for AIDS Commission and for Partnership Forum

February 9, 2001

Dar-Es-Salaam -- Tanzania is now moving quickly to grapple with AIDS and is to be congratulated for setting up the structures needed to deal with a fast-growing epidemic, according to the United Nations’ top AIDS official.

"Tanzania must be commended for its growing and visible political commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), during a three-day visit to Tanzania. "Not only has it mainstreamed HIV/AIDS issues into development strategies, but the government has also placed AIDS high on its expenditure agenda by giving it high priority for resource mobilization and allocation. This is a clear indication of how seriously it takes the epidemic."

Dr Piot is scheduled to participate in a consultative group meeting established to pave the way for the launch of a Partnership Forum in Tanzania, a coalition of African leaders, UN agencies, donors, the private and the community sectors working together against AIDS. Once launched, the Forum will operate as part of the fast-developing International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa, a continent-wide initiative that brings together a range of actors to accelerate the response to AIDS.

According to the Chair of the United Nations Theme Group on HIV/AIDS, an inter-agency working group on AIDS, there is room for even broader participation in Tanzania’s AIDS response. "The greatest urgency and challenge in Tanzania is to find effective ways to involve young people in safeguarding their own future and the country as a whole," said UNICEF Representative Bjorn Ljungqvist, who chairs the UN body in Tanzania. "Efforts should also be strengthened to mobilize religious leaders as well as the private sector. The recent launch of the National Business Council and the invitation of representatives of the private sector to the consultative group meeting are encouraging steps forward."

The consultative group is part of an interim structure designed to act as a bridge until the formal establishment by Parliament of the Tanzanian Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), announced by President Mkapa on 1 December 2000. The main role of the commission will be to guide policy, act as a clearinghouse for national AIDS activities and help mobilize additional funds to fight the epidemic nationally.

"The decision to establish TACAIDS will go a long way towards consolidating AIDS prevention and care in Tanzania," said Hilde Basstanie, UNAIDS Country Programme Adviser in Tanzania. "UNAIDS will provide technical and political support to Tanzania in this crucial process, and will encourage other donors to mobilize resources for TACAIDS."

AIDS was first reported in Tanzania in 1983 and since then the epidemic has spread rapidly throughout the country. Tanzania now has an estimated prevalence rate of 8% among those aged 15-49.

Of the 36.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 25.3 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. During 2000, 2.4 million people died of AIDS in the region and 3.8 million were newly infected with HIV.

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This article was provided by UNAIDS. Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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