SP development spokesman to attend UN Aids Summit

5 March 2008

SP development spokesman to attend UN Aids Summit

SP Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang will next week attend a young leaders' summit at the invitation of UN Aids chief Peter Piot. The conference will discuss priorities for the world-wide fight against Aids in the next twenty-five years.

Ewout IrrgangIrrgang will be one of thirty participants in the 'young leaders'' summit. The SP's spokesman on development issues is chair of a multi-party initiative in Parliament the aim of which is to ensure that Aids is high on the political agenda in the Netherlands. The other participants include representatives of youth organisations from a large number of African and Latin American countries. United States Aids Ambassador Mark Dybul will also be present, as the US administration considers doubling its own spending on the international campaign against Aids to $30 billion per year.

The fight against Aids has enjoyed some success in developing countries, beyond the hopes of even the most optimistic. The number of people being treated for the condition in developing countries rose from 240.000 in 2001 to 1.5 million in 2006. Unfortunately this represents only half of the people in need of help. A growing number of countries has, on the other hand, succeeded in reducing the percentage of the population becoming infected. In Uganda, for example, the figure has fallen from a high of 15% to 6.7%. In many other countries, however, the scene is bleaker, and as a result the total number of HIV+ people in the world as a whole continues to climb.

“In the coming twenty-five years the Aids pandemic will be beaten back by means of better information, the availability of condoms, and the prevention of the passing of infection from mother to child," said Irrgang. "The consequences of the pandemic are so serious that without a successful campaign against Aids development in large parts of Africa will fail, and countries could even go backwards. An example: life expectancy in Botswana would now be 72 if it were't for Aids. As it is, it's just 39.”

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