African states urged to curbs child AIDS infections

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Indy Lifestyle Online

African leaders were urged Thursday to increase efforts to end HIV infections among children and women, in the world's worst affected continent.

Speaking at the launch of the Campaign to End Pediatric HIV-AIDS, activist Graca Machel said that only two countries in Africa spent a target of 15 percent of their budgets on health.

"You tell me next time we meet how much is being spent in wars and defence...but how much is being spent in health, how much is being spent in agriculture to produce food for our kids," Machel told delegates.

Sub-saharan Africa is home to 1.8 million of the world's two million children infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Mother-to-child prevention and treatment coverage currently averages 30 to 40 percent against a target of 80 percent.

"We need the international community to commit, to meet their obligations, but we have to show commitment ourselves no matter how small our budgets might be," said Machel, who is married to South Africa's Nelson Mandela and a member of the group of senior statespeople known as The Elders.

"We will not get there when African leaders do not get moved, they do not get moved by the hundreds of thousands of people who are dying on this continent when we know that this can be prevented," she said.

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