Montana Model United Nations 2001
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The Organization of African Unity

TOPIC I

HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and other Related Infectious Diseases

The effects of infectious diseases have burdened the social and economic development of African countries for many years. Rampant infectious disease in Africa not only has consequences in the African continent but virtually everywhere else in the world as well. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other related infectious diseases, are, therefore, not just Africa's problem but the entire world's.

At the Summit in Abuja, Nigeria in April of 2001 the OAU set out to achieve many goals to decrease and ultimately extinguish the adverse effects of the many dehabilitating diseases that plague the country. The well being and health of the African population was and is the main concern of the OAU at this time.
At the Summit these goals were established:

  • To develop processes and procedures that will ensure a higher degree of political commitment that will be translated into policies and strategies to control the impact of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases based on a concrete and valuable Plan of Action; and
  • To develop internal and external resource mobilization mechanisms and partnership, for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Program of Action.

Aids:

Efforts to roll back the AIDS epidemic in Africa simply have not kept pace with the epidemic itself. A bigger, broader effort is needed if the response is to catch up. For many, the answer lies in the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa. The Partnership is a coalition that works under the leadership of African countries to save and improve many lives. It is made up of African governments, the United Nations, donors, and the private and community sectors.

In international development, never before has such a multisectoral group joined forces to fight a single disease. By providing national leadership, African governments are spearheading broad-based national responses. United Nations organizations are coordinating the global response and providing programme and financial support to country-level efforts. Donor governments are also supporting action at all levels, providing input into substantive development of the Partnership in addition to financial assistance. The private sector is providing expertise and resources to help turn the epidemic around in the business community and beyond. And, finally, the community sector is working to ensure ownership of the Partnership within local civil society and to strengthen regional and country networks.

The Partnership's mission is as ambitious as it is simple: over the next decade, it will help reduce the number of new HIV infections in Africa, promote care for those who suffer from the virus, and mobilize society to halt the advance of AIDS.

The Partnership's key role is at country level. It supports strategic plans to fight AIDS, and builds upon what already exists and works. By replicating proven successes, the Partnership helps channel isolated actions into coherent, cohesive plans. This capitalizes on individual efforts and avoids duplication, dramatically enhancing the impact of any one action by using it as a foundation for others.

Tuberculosis:

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today warned that Tuberculosis (TB) cases in Africa will likely double over the next decade as a consequence of the increased spread of HIV and the under-funding of strategies effective in curing TB.

Evidence being presented this week at the Organization of African Unity Summit on HIV/AIDS, TB and Other Infectious Diseases in Abuja, Nigeria, will show that TB cases are increasing 10% per year in Africa because of HIV. There were nearly two million new TB cases in Africa in 1999, with two-thirds of those also infected with HIV. Experts estimate that the number of TB cases in Africa will reach 3.3 million by 2005 and surpass 4 million shortly thereafter.

Tuberculosis is a leading killer of people living with HIV/AIDS. Up to 50% of people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa develop TB. This is one of the reasons why the control of TB and HIV in Africa is so interdependent.

Another reason is that people with HIV - just like people who are sick with TB - can easily develop drug-resistant forms of these infections unless their medications are provided under some form of supervision.

Care and support for TB patients is provided through a strategy known as DOTS (the internationally recommended TB control strategy). This strategy - first developed in Tanzania in the 1980s - makes maximum use of community health workers and volunteers to provide support to patients and to ensure that they are taking their medication until they are fully cured. Increasing the availability of DOTS in Africa is considered a key not only for curing TB cases but also for organizing health infrastructure in communities for the future provision of anti-retroviral drugs required for treating HIV.
Currently, over 300 000 people in Africa are being treated for tuberculosis using the DOTS strategy. Worldwide, nearly 900 000 people are treated through DOTS services. Their cure rates are two to three times higher compared to patients without access to the DOTS strategy. Drug resistance is three times lower in DOTS projects than in health services not providing DOTS.

WHO and UNAIDS recommend rapid expansion of DOTS services. There is a need to strengthen national and local infrastructures and community-based care approaches to tackle TB and HIV.

The strong increase in TB cases that have occurred in many sub-Saharan African countries has often outstripped their capacity to maintain adequate supplies of TB drugs

Related Infectious Diseases:

The first ever "Africa Malaria Day" was marked widely Wednesday as the United Nations and its partners used the occasion to inform communities about malaria prevention and treatment and to mobilize action against a disease that kills over a million people a year, with nine tenths of the victims in Africa and most under the age of five.

Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia - have changed their policies and reduced or abolished taxes and tariffs to help lower the price of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs). The nets are considered one of the most effective prevention measures for malaria. If properly used, they can reduce the risk of transmission by as much as 63 per cent. At the same time, the report, which was commissioned by the Roll Back Malaria partnership and compiled by Boston University, emphasized that more needs to be done to make the nets affordable to the poorest sectors of all Africa societies.

Scientists studying the impacts of global warming forecast rising levels of disease, famine and poverty in Africa. A report, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says heavy, monsoon-like rains and higher temperatures will favor the breeding of disease-carrying mosquitoes, allowing them to thrive at higher altitudes.

The report cites how malaria cases in the highland area of Rwanda have increased by 337 per cent in recent years with 80 per cent of the climb linked with changes in temperature and rainfall which improved breeding conditions for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. A similar link has been reported in Zimbabwe.

The report notes that mosquitoes can also transmit many viruses, over 100 of which are known to infect humans. These include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and severe and sometimes fatal encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever.

Cholera, which is transmitted by water or food, could aggravate health problems in many parts of the world including Africa. The scientists say that during the 1997-1998 El-Nino excessive flooding caused cholera epidemics in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.

There is evidence that El Nino, a vast natural climatic phenomenon that can bring intense floods and droughts in many parts of the globe, is becoming more frequent as a result of global warming. While heavy rains will become more frequent, there will also be increasing levels of drought and the spread of deserts such as the Sahara, the scientists warn.

In Africa's large catchment basins of Niger, Lake Chad and Senegal, total available water has decreased by 40 to 60 per cent. Scientists predict that, in terms of droughts, southern Africa could be one of the hardest hit areas. Farmers in the developed world may get access to new varieties of crops which are more heat- and drought-tolerant. In developing countries today, 790 million people are estimated to be undernourished. Undernourishment is a fundamental cause of stunted physical and intellectual development in children, of low productivity in adults, and of susceptibility to infectious disease.

Despite the efforts of international health officials and relief groups to halt the deadly epidemic, cholera is spreading along South Africa's eastern coast at an alarming rate. As the disease continues to take more lives, the current rainy season is expected to make matters even worse.

Heavy rains and flooding have increased the risk of contaminating rivers and drinking wells, according to a report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The risks are particularly high because many villages have no latrines, and human waste mixes with floodwaters.

Health officials first identified the bacterial infection in Kwazulu-Natal Province, on the eastern seaboard, seven months ago. Now, more than 1,000 new cases are being reported every day in Kwazulu-Natal, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But health department officials warn that the epidemic could get much worse, possibly doubling the current infection rate. In total, more than 58,000 cases have been reported since the outbreak last summer. The death toll stands at 122, WOZA Internet, in Johannesburg, reported on Feb. 26.

The epidemic is the second largest since the early 1980s when more than 105,400 people were infected and over 340 died in four consecutive outbreaks. Officials are concerned, though, that the present epidemic, which already has spread south along the province, will grow worse during the current rainy season.

Cholera is easily prevented by providing rural residents with clean drinking water and proper sanitation, experts say. Drinking or ingesting contaminated food or water sparks the disease, which causes severe diarrhea, leading to dehydration, the reason for most deaths from cholera. The harsh poverty conditions in which many South Africans live provide near perfect conditions for epidemic outbreaks of cholera

Almost seven years since the end of Apartheid, many South African blacks live in rural townships, massive conglomerations of metal shacks with little or no access to clean, safe water supplies or latrines.

Recent studies show that 21 million South Africans live in unsanitary conditions, and at least 8 million do not have access to potable water, according to the Associated Press. Many people rely on river water for cooking, drinking and washing. Authorities are urging South Africans to purify water by boiling it or adding bleach.

Prevention Key to Stopping Spread

Because vaccination is not very effective in managing cholera outbreaks, government and health officials are fighting the epidemic through the establishment of clean water sources, sanitation, preventative education and quarantine. .


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