African nations celebrate 50th anniversary
20 May 2010
The heads of seven African states are in Yaoundé at the invitation of Cameroon’s President Paul Biya to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their countries’ independence on Thursday. The seven leaders, who come mostly from central Africa, also took part in the closing ceremony of the international conference “Africa 21” on Wednesday evening.
The high-level conference, themed “Africa, a chance for the world: realities and challenges,” brought together many international leaders including Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Ali Abdussalam Treki, two former French prime ministers, Michel Rocard and Alain Juppe, as well as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
“Africa is a sleeping giant about to be awoken,” said Mr Annan, who then outlined how the region is increasingly becoming an active player on the world stage, participating actively in the G20 and in international climate talks in Copenhagen last December.
In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, countries recognize that domestic action alone can no longer assure the security of their people and economies, AIDS is one of the first examples in the modern era of how a transnational threat to human health has prompted a concerted response to global governance
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé also participated in the closing ceremony and was the president of a plenary session on human security issues in Africa.
“In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, countries recognize that domestic action alone can no longer assure the security of their people and economies,” said Mr Sidibé, “AIDS is one of the first examples in the modern era of how a transnational threat to human health has prompted a concerted response to global governance.”
He stressed that if the impact of the epidemic on health and human security is not stopped, many African countries will be unable to adequately address any other development issue. To overcome the inroads HIV is making on the African continent he said AIDS must be taken out of isolation and called on international, national and community leaders to harness their political clout and resources to push for an end to AIDS.
As part of his official visit to the country, Mr Sidibé was invited by Cameroon’s First Lady Chantal Biya to visit the pan-African non-governmental organization “Synergies Africaines contre le SIDA et les souffrances” (African Synergies against AIDS and suffering) where he also met the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Chantal Compoare. The NGO leverages the celebrity status of its 26 African First Ladies who are members and have as a mission improving the health of the African people. At the NGO, members of civil society expressed their hope for UNAIDS to support Cameroon in its bid to qualify for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Round 10 after the country’s unsuccessful proposal for previous round.
Mr Sidibé also visited First Lady Biya’s international research centre which is conducting research into an HIV vaccine as well as exploring resistance to antiretroviral therapy.
On Tuesday, Mr. Sidibé and Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro discussed the challenges and national priorities on HIV with the United Nations country team in Cameroon. Later, they visited Yaoundé’s Sanitation Project (PADY) which is funded by the African Development Bank and implemented by the government of Cameroon. The project aims to alleviate the recurrent flooding in the city of Yaoundé and also reduce urban poverty. A PADY employee spoke about sensitization on HIV. The project provides voluntary counseling and testing on HIV and 50% of employees have undergone HIV tests.