Home | News    Thursday 16 October 2003

Government appeals for millions of dollars to combat AIDS in Sudan

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Oct 16, 2003 (AP) — Sudan is appealing for millions of dollars in aid to combat HIV/AIDS, a disease that its government fears will spread exponentially once peace is restored and displaced people return from neighboring states.

"After peace, we expect a huge movement of population from countries known to have high rates of AIDS," Sudanese Health Minister Ahmad Bilal Osman told an aid donors conference in the capital on Thursday. He was referring to countries such as Kenya, which hosts thousands of Sudanese refugees and where AIDS and its virus HIV are much more prevalent.

The government and the southern-based rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army are currently engaged in peace talks in Kenya that are expected to conclude with a final agreement in the next few months.

The Sudanese National AIDS Program says the country needs around US$200 million to combat AIDS effectively.

"However, the available funds ... are far below the required," the program said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Sudanese Vice President Mosses Machar told the conference: "If we don’t find funds for AIDS control, we might (end up) having very few people to come and share wealth with."

He was referring to an item on the agenda of the peace talks that concerns the sharing of wealth in postwar Sudan.

"When the grass catches fire, the whole forest is in danger," Machar said.

The Sudanese Health Ministry said this year that the rate of infection of AIDS/HIV is estimated at 512,000 people. But the number of officially registered cases is only 10,805 people.

Africa is the continent hardest hit by AIDS, having 26 million of the world’s estimated 40 million cases.

Sudan’s civil war began in 1983 and has led to the death of more than 2 million people from fighting and war-related famine and disease.