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SA, India lead in AIDS, UN told
Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations |
September 22, 2003 21:59 IST
"It is," UNAIDS executive director Dr Peter Piot told an assemblage of world leaders at the United Nations this morning, "a wake-up call to the world."
He was referring to two reports released on the occasion of a high-level United Nations meeting on HIV/AIDS, ahead of the 58th plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly beginning Tuesday, September 23.
The first such report, released by the United Nations Population Fund, indicates that China and India, the world's two most populous nations, have relatively low incidence of AIDS per capita.
Yet, thanks to the sheer size of population, the overall numbers are alarming. Thus, while India's per capita incidence is just 1 per cent, the total number of HIV/AIDS victims in the country is estimated at a conservative 4 million, with numbers continuing to rise.
This puts India just behind South Africa in the list of nations with the largest number of AIDS victims.
"The current pace and scope of the world's response to HIV/AIDS is totally insufficient," Dr Piot told the assembly while underlining salient points in a UNAIDS report that said spending on AIDS prevention measures in low- and middle-income nations amounts to an estimated $4.7 billion in 2003, a 20 per cent increase over the previous year.
But this figure, Dr Piot said, is still less than half the $10 billion that is required to be spent in the coming year for an effective response.
Inaugurating the session, which comes two years after the UN hosted its historic special session on AIDS in June 2001, Secretary General Kofi Annan said, "While there has been some progress by individual countries, a lot more needs to be done. We have come a long way, but not far enough. Clearly, there is much more to be done to ensure a universal commitment to fight against AIDS."
While India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is engaged in various bi- and multi-lateral meetings on the sidelines, an as yet unnamed senior Indian official will address the special session on AIDS later this afternoon.