PRESS CONFERENCE BY MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF CANADA
Canada would commit some $73 million for HIV/AIDS programming in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, Maria Minna, Minister for International Cooperation of Canada, announced today at a Headquarters press conference being held in conjunction with the special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS.
The Minister clarified that this was not money that would be going to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS –- it was for programming on the ground. Canada’s forthcoming contributions to the Fund would be additional money. She stressed that countries and donors must not divert contributions away from extant programmes to go towards the global fund. Canada was currently discussing the amount of its contribution to the fund. That announcement would come later, perhaps within the month.
The $73 million would go towards efforts to prevent the spread of HIV, with special attention paid to young people and vulnerable groups, she said. For example, some projects would support the inclusion of AIDS education in school curricula. Others would help increase voluntary and confidential testing and counseling, in order to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. “We will also work to provide people living with HIV/AIDS with the care and support they need, for example, by working with community-based groups that provide home-care to AIDS patients”, she said.
The world was at a turning point in its struggle against the “terrible disease”, she said. “It has been 20 years since that first diagnosis of the disease known as AIDS. There has been so much suffering and pain, and, sadly, there is still much more to come. Fortunately, there has been a tremendous amount of work dedicated to this struggle and I believe we will do much more.”
Last fall, Canada had made a commitment to quadruple to $270 million by 2005 its funding for international cooperation programmes dedicated to fighting the disease, she said. Today’s announcement was an important step towards fulfilling her Government’s broader commitment to fighting the pandemic.
Responding to a question on the apportionment of the $73 million, the Minister said that there was no debate that Africa was the hardest-hit part of the world in terms of HIV/AIDS. For that reason, Canada tended to concentrate more funds in that area and would continue to do so. She noted, however, that Canada already provided strong support for the HIV/AIDS fight in other areas of the world. The announced funds were a piece in Canada’s continued programming.
Those funds would go to programmes that would begin immediately, she noted in response to another question. She pointed out that programmes tended to run for two to four years.
She said the Global Fund was of great importance for addressing HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, she noted, was very closely tied to AIDS,
because of the immune system. A great part of the fund would address prevention, which was fundamental if the HIV/AIDS tide was to be stemmed.
A correspondent asked about the state of negotiations on the language of the declaration to be adopted by the Assembly -- specifically about inclusion of the phrase “men having sex with men”.
The Minister said the negotiations were ongoing and she would have a report sometime later this afternoon. Canada’s position was that the language should be included. It was a rights issue. If not all the groups affected were included, then “we are sticking our heads in the sand again, and not dealing with the problem in a comprehensive way”.
Responding to another question, the Minister said that Canada’s health programmes had a rights-based approach and incorporated a gender perspective. All of Canada’s development programmes had to include gender analysis. It was part of Canada’s approach to ensure that the most marginalized groups were provided for. Canada’s programmes were often delivered through executing agencies on the ground, and monitoring was undertaken to ensure that the programmes were running correctly.
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