|The Organization of African
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and other Related Infectious
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. .