U.N. World Television Forum Examines Role of HIV/AIDS in ‘Digital Divide’
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan last week told a conference of broadcast news executives that he is "distressed by the way the world media seem to have disengaged from Africa" and Africans with AIDS by offering only "sporadic" coverage of events on the continent. "In these days of globalization, no part of the world can completely insulate itself from the travails and the suffering of any other. Europe, especially, should be concerned about Africa, since Africans who are fleeing from AIDS, poverty or oppression are likely to head north" (U.N. release, 11/16). Despite his criticism of the media for its ambivalence toward Africa, Annan praised the benefits of information technology in his keynote address at the United Nations World Television Forum, stressing the importance of the Internet in the field of medicine and stating that "[t]elemedicine can provide access to up-to-date health and medical information to even the most remote facilities throughout the world" ( Annan speech transcript, 11/16). General Assembly President Harri Holkeri also emphasized the importance of audio-visual media in the fight against AIDS, adding that it could pave the way for knowledge regarding the disease in Africa. "Technology can improve knowledge: in Africa, where one in four adults is HIV-positive and 40% cannot read or write, technology, including ... television, radio and the Internet, could spread knowledge about the AIDS virus and help reduce illness or death," he said. "[This] forum is very timely: It offers a possibility of exploring ways that the television industry can help ensure that technology will not speed further divergence between the rich and poor of our world," Holkeri concluded (U.N. release, 11/16).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.