‘€˜Exceptional leadership’€™ is needed

‘€˜Exceptional leadership’€™ is neededSketching a crisis epidemic that is already infecting 65 million people, the UN body says '€œexceptional leadership'€ is needed to move beyond crisis management to develop long-term responses.

Sketching a crisis epidemic that is already infecting 65 million people, the UN body says ‘€œexceptional leadership’€ is needed to move beyond crisis management to develop long-term responses.

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‘€œLet us have no illusion that, one fine day, the world will simply return to what it was before AIDS. No, AIDS has rewritten the rules. And to prevail, we too must rewrite these rules,’€ says UNAIDS Executive director Peter Piot in the UNAIDS global report on AIDS.

Sketching a crisis epidemic that is already infecting 65 million people, the UN body says ‘€œexceptional leadership’€ is needed to move beyond crisis management to develop long-term responses.

The report was released to coincide with the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS (UNGASS) currently underway in New York.

Yet the many of the targets set in the ‘€œDeclaration of Commitment’€ adopted at the first UNGASS meeting in 2001 have not been met.

One of the elements of the Declaration is that countries develop sound HIV/AIDS strategies, together with civil society, that are incorporated into all development planning.

While many of these strategies have been developed, they remain on paper ‘€“ and UNAIDS urges that they become ‘€œcosted AIDS plans that have ambitious but feasible targets’€.

Such plans should set out ‘€œnational priorities’€ to reduce AIDS-related deaths, care for people with HIV, reduce stigma and promote the rights of women and children.

‘€œLack of human capacity is the single biggest obstacle to an effective response to AIDS in many developing countries,’€ notes the report.

‘€œThere is currently a shortage of almost 4.3 million doctors, midwives, nurses and support workers worldwide’€¦ due in part to the ongoing ‘€˜brain drain’€™ of healthworkers from Africa and other heavily affected areas.’€

UNAIDS calls for formal agreements between countries about recruitment practices, as well as measure to improve working conditions, pay and other incentives to keep people at home.

Commenting on the UNGASS Declaration five years on, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says: ‘€œFor the first time ever, the world possesses the means to begin to reverse the epidemic.’€

UNAIDS qualifies this by concluding: ‘€œHeads of our societies [need] to recognise that being a leader in the world today, whether in the world of government, business, religion or other elements of civil society, requires being a leader on AIDS.

‘€œDefeating AIDS must be a shared, non-partisan agenda.’€