LEAD: George W Bush tells Africa conference to redouble AIDS battle
Dec 4, 2011, 16:39 GMT
Addis Ababa - Former US President George W Bush on Sunday told the 16th International Conference on Aids in Africa (ICASA) that despite global financial worries, the fight against the disease must go on.
'We have to make priorities, and there's no greater priority than saving human lives,' Bush said in a speech before thousands of delegates in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Bush's comments came as delegates met to tackle financing for AIDS medication to Africa in the face of possible cutbacks by international donors.
Speakers at the conference echoed Bush's sentiment.
'This is the first time in the history of fighting Aids that we're seeing a fall back in funds,' UNAIDS director Michel Sidibe warned in a speech on Sunday.
The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria had earlier announced it would not hold a new fund-raising round for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programmes, since donors in industrialized nations affected by the financial crisis were unable to meet their commitments to the fund.
The Global Fund has to date paid for some 70 per cent of anti-retroviral drugs distributed in Africa.
Around 5,000 delegates are expected to attend the five-day conference, which is to be made up of more than 1,000 sessions under the theme 'Own, Scale-up and Sustain.'
Around 68 per cent of the 34 million people who are infected with the AIDS virus worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Read more about AIDS