International Federation launches $300 million appeal to combat HIV and AIDS in southern Africa

Published: 1 November 2006

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an appeal for some 300 million US dollars (CHF 384 million/EUR 241 million) as a massive expansion over five years of its HIV and AIDS programme in southern Africa.

The programme is part of the new International Federation Global HIV and AIDS Alliance. It aims to reduce the vulnerability to HIV and its impact through preventing further infection, expanding care, treatment and support, reducing stigma and discrimination and strengthening Red Cross national and regional capacities.

“The programme has already started, and represents a quadrupling of Red Cross/Red Crescent effort in the region, the worst affected in the world with approximately 12.3 million people living with HIV including 860,000 children less than 14 years old,” says Dr Mukesh Kapila, the International Federation’s Special Representative for HIV and AIDS, speaking from Johannesburg where the appeal is being launched.

“We plan to reach 50 million people with messages for prevention, and for countering stigma and discrimination. We will also provide services for more than 250,000 persons living with HIV and AIDS and 460,000 children that have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS”, he adds.

The programme relies on a unique approach based on volunteers empowering communities, with the intensified involvement of people living with HIV. It especially targets the most vulnerable groups. “We are particularly concerned by the situation of young women who are infected by the virus twice as much as men because of sexual and gender-based violence and exploitation, including intergenerational sex”, says Françoise Le Goff, the Head of the International Federation’s regional delegation for southern Africa.

“Weakened education, lack of health and public services means that vulnerable people have less and less access to essential support and we need to improve their status”, she adds.

Orphans are also a particularly vulnerable group. Their numbers are expected to double by 2010. “The recent controversy on the adoption of children by celebrities in southern Africa is a reminder of how desperate the situation is”, says Dr Mukesh Kapila. “We will be working on more sustainable approaches to support orphans and vulnerable children. This means developing income generation activities as well as giving psychosocial support. Our volunteers are well placed to do this as they are part of the same communities”, he concludes.

Red Cross national societies from ten countries will benefit from the appeal: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.