Feature story

African Union summit focuses on economic growth and food security

02 July 2009

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Leaders and representatives from some 50 African countries, as well as guests from the international community are gathered in Sirte, Libya from 1 – 3 July for the 13th ordinary session of the African Union taking place under the theme “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”.

UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr Michel Sidibé also attended the meeting where he held several consultations with African leaders. He talked with them about the need to keep AIDS out of isolation and link HIV to the broader international health and development agenda, as represented by the MDGs, emphasizing that the AIDS response can set the pace to help reach the MDGs targets faster.

During the summit, Mr Sidibé met with the President of the African Union Mr Jean Ping and several African leaders including Presidents of Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Central African Republic, Liberia, Zambia, Zimbabwe as well as foreign ministers from Tanzania, Djibouti, Niger, Congo, Chad, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Uganda, Benin and Angola.

Mr Sidibé also underscored the need to turn off the tap of new HIV infections. He called upon all African governments to commit to their national AIDS strategies to a halving the number of new HIV infections between now and the end of 2015, including a commitment to the goal of virtual elimination of mother-to-child-transmission and to mass social mobilization to confront the sexual practices and social norms that put Africa’s citizens—especially its women and girls—at risk of HIV infection.

The need to make treatment more affordable and ensuring sustainable access to quality medicines in Africa was also underlined by the UNAIDS Executive Director. He argued that demand for AIDS treatment should become an opportunity for Africa to reform its pharmaceutical practices and he proposed the creation of a single African Drug Agency to ensure high standards and progress in drug production.

Established in 2002, the 53-member AU is the successor to the Organization of African Unity and seeks to promote the socio-economic integration of the continent, as well as greater unity between the countries and peoples of Africa.

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