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The African Union on Monday marked the World Aids Day in Victoria Falls where representatives of 47 African countries attended.

The commemorations marked progress made on the continent’s response to HIV and Aids under the theme: “Getting to Zero in Africa, Africa’s Responsibility and Everyone’s Responsibility”.

Speaking at the occasion, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr Mutsapha Sidiki Kaloko applauded the continent for making incredible response towards the HIV and Aids epidemic.

“Africa has made tremendous response towards HIV and Aids epidemic, this was achieved through resolute leadership, putting appropriate structures and accountability mechanisms to check the spread of the virus and to effectively manage its consequences,” Dr Kaloko said.

“The astute leadership by African leaders was demonstrated by the establishment of Aids Watch Africa.”

Dr Kaloko said AWA was a High Level Platform for Aocacy and Accountability which adopted the AU Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity.

He reiterated that ending HIV and Aids in Africa was a priority of the continent.

Dr Kaloko added: “This has been clearly articulated at the highest level by Heads of State and Government, including at the 2013 ‘Abuja plus 12’ Special Summit and in the ‘Common African Position for the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ which calls for ‘ending the epidemics of HIV, AIDS, TB and Malaria’ by 2030.

“These calls and commitments are consistent with the global pledge in the Millennium Development Goals and with the targets and commitments in the 2011 UN General Assembly ‘Political Declaration on HIV, Aids, Intensifying our Efforts to Eliminate HIV, Aids’.”

Speaking at the same event, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said Africa remained the centre of the Aids pandemic.

“The situation has been exacerbated by the recent resurgence of Ebola, particularly in West Africa, with a real threat to envelope the entire continent,” he said. “These two (Aids and Ebola) public health emergencies are exerting insurmountable pressure on our health delivery systems.”

Dr Parirenyatwa said the responsibility to address the challenges was primarily on Africans.

He said illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries were affecting the nation’s HIV response. “Due to the illegal sanctions, my country has also been sidelined by various development aid partners, thereby affecting the performance of the response to HIV and AIDS,” he said.

“Zimbabwe’s response also owes its resilience in part to the support we have received from our partners and donors both in and out of Africa,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

United States ambassador Mr Bruce Wharton acknowledged progress in HIV response in Africa and urged African countries to continue being determined in working towards achieving an HIV free generation.

“Africa’s access to life-saving HIV treatment has increased by more than forty-fold in the last decade,” he said.

“As a result, new HIV infections are down by one-third since 2005 and Aids related deaths declined by nearly 40 percent. This remarkable progress has been built on African leadership and internal support.”

The commemorations were attended by several delegates including AU Head of Division HIV, Aids, Tuberculosis Malaria and OID Department of Social Affairs Dr Marie-Goretti Harakeye Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Paul Chimedza and the ministry’s permanent secretary Retired Brigadier General Gerald Gwinji and World Health Organisation representative to Zimbabwe Dr David Okello.

Source : The Herald