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Great Lakes: New intergovernmental effort to combat AIDS

Great Lakes: New intergovernmental effort to combat AIDS

29 July 2004

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

BUJUMBURA, 29 July (PlusNews) - In an effort to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Great Lakes region, government ministers from six countries signed a convention on Tuesday establishing a new regional organisation called the Great Lakes Initiatives on AIDS (GLIA).

The Great Lakes has the world's second highest incidence of HIV infection after southern Africa.

In a statement following a two-day conference in Bujumbura, the Council of Ministers agreed that the organisation would be headquartered in Rwanda's capital, Kigali. Member states are Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Part of the GLIA's role will be to monitor the movement of people in the region, said Burundi's representative, Luc Rukingama, the country's minister in charge of fighting AIDS.

"HIV often expands due to migration, displacement and repatriation from one country to another," he said.

But rather than try to control the movement of people, the GLIA plans to raise awareness of the pandemic. The Council of Ministers is planning a programme that would include posters at border crossings as well as workshops and seminars targeting itinerant segments of their societies, including traders and teachers.

Rukingama said the GLIA would also support people infected with HIV as well as others dependent on them. "This organisation will bring about innovations in how we fight AIDS," he said.

Despite political tensions in the subregion the ministers in the council said they were committed to working together and had recommended that the convention be ratified no later than 26 October.

Source: IRIN PlusNews - UN-OCHA Integrated Regional Information Networks