ETHIOPIA Seven Days Update

 

                              Ethiopia: Seven Days Update (Addis Ababa)

                              August 2, 2000

 

                              Addis Ababa - Life with AIDS: The growing AIDS epidemic is destroying lives and

                              reducing the possibilities for a future in many countries. In the past week, the

                              issue of AIDS and its alarming spread in Ethiopia were very much alive in the

                              media.

 

                              Conspiracy of silence

 

                              The private thrice-weekly Monitor (July 27) reported that the Ethiopian Vice

                              Minister of Health, Dr. Lamesso Hayesso, said that the challenge for Ethiopia to

                              check the rapid spread of the AIDS pandemic is to break the "conspiracy of

                              silence at every level of society, down to the last household." Dr. Lamesso was

                              speaking at the launching in Ethiopia of Progress of Nations 2000 by the UN

                              Children's Fund, UNICEF, highlighting the need to mobilize all of society,

                              especially young people, who make up one-third of global HIV cases. It calls for a

                              "war of liberation" against the disease. In Ethiopia, an estimated 12.5 percent of

                              young women and 7.5 percent of young men aged 15 to 24 years are infected with

                              HIV or are living with AIDS, Dr. Lamesso stated. "Our young people are most at

                              risk. An entire generation is threatened," he said. He observed that the most

                              important thing each and every Ethiopian can do in the fight against the killer

                              disease is to speak openly about it. "We must break the conspiracy of silence that

                              shrouds a terrible disease in fear, in superstition and shame," he said.

 

                              Radio Ethiopia (July 25) reported that speaking at the same occasion, Mr. Ibrahim

                              Jabir, UNICEF Representative, said that the formation of the National Council on

                              AIDS, led by President Negaso Gidada, was an important first step towards

                              breaking the silence surrounding the disease. Mr. Jabir also said that the inclusion

                              of young people in the movement against AIDS was critical. He indicated that over

                              4,000 anti-AIDS clubs for young people exist throughout Ethiopia underlining the

                              fact that education was the key to stopping the transmission of the killer disease.

 

                              Call of the mosque

 

                              ETV (July 25) disclosed that the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council

                              (EIASC) has said it would undertake HIV/AIDS prevention and care projects with

                              an outlay of over 1.2 million birr in selected areas of the country. According to a

                              report presented to a two-day national workshop on AIDS prevention and

                              counseling services, the projects would be undertaken in Oromiya and Harari

                              states as well as in Dire Dawa Administrative Council. The report said the project

                              areas were selected on the basis of the number of the Muslim population and the

                              prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Spiritual leaders and community elders will be trained on

                              ways of sensitizing the public about the transmission and prevention of the

                              disease. They will also offer counseling services to persons living with HIV/AIDS.

                              Opening the workshop, Council Chairman Sheik Abdurahman Hussein urged the

                              Muslim community to strictly adhere to the "sacred commandments of the Holy

                              Koran to contain the spread of the disease". Pathfinder, a U.S.-based humanitarian

                              organization, will cover the lion's share of the financial cost of the project, Sheik

                              Abdurahman said.

 

                              From 0 to 2.9 million in 16 years

 

                              The private paper Capital (July 23) wrote that it is believed that HIV/AIDS started to

                              spread in Ethiopia in the early 1980s. The first evidence of HIV infection was found

                              in 1984 and the first AIDS case was reported in 1986. HIV prevalence was low in

                              the 1980s but began to increase in the last decade, rising from about 3.2 percent

                              of the population in 1993 to 10.63 percent in 2000 representing 2.9 million adults

                              and 150,000 children. According to a recent report on HIV/AIDS, there is a major

                              difference at present between urban areas where HIV prevalence is estimated at

                              21% and rural areas where it is reported to be only 4.5%. Although there are some

                              data suggesting that HIV prevalence may be leveling off in urban areas. The

                              evidence is not conclusive and there is no suggestion that it will remain low in rural

                              areas. The study shows that the number of deaths in Ethiopia will be about

                              525,000 per year by 2014 with the AIDS epidemic versus 230,000 deaths not

                              related to AIDS.

 

                              Seven Days Update, a weekly summary of the Ethiopian press, is available by

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