Zambia Receives Donations to Fund HIV/AIDS Intervention Program
The Zambian government announced today that it has received $113 million in grant money to fund its HIV/AIDS intervention program scheduled to commence in January, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports. Finance Minister Katele Kalumba, speaking after a "resource mobilization meeting," said the seven unnamed donors had pledged $133 million to fight the disease, which is crippling the sub-Saharan African country. "We're dying at the level of political leadership. We're seeing the loss and the cost to the country is considerable," he said. Zambia will also receive assistance from the World Bank, as Senior Health Specialist Bert Voetberg said that the bank had given the country a $40 million "credit facility" for the three-year program. Urging Zambia to begin intervention as soon as possible, he said, "It's up to the government now. We hope the project will start before next June. It's okay even if the government uses the money in two years." Zambian President Frederick Chiluba "opened funding" yesterday by donating $90,000 from his presidential fund. He estimated that the intervention program would require $830 million (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 11/22). Chiluba Addresses Crisis Chiluba also acknowledged today the severe effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on Zambia, calling the disease "overwhelming." In a "rare statement" on the "Day of Affirmation" for HIV-positive Zambians, he said, "I have witnessed at close proximity the scale of pain, devastation, and fragmentation the disease has brought -- in my visits to hospitals, homes, funeral homes, and through letters of appeal from orphans and widowed spouses." While falling "short of declaring the AIDS crisis a national disaster," he added, "So overwhelming has been the scale of the scourge that our medical, social and traditional structures are unable to cope with the human cost exacted by the pandemic." Chiluba, president since 1991 of a country where 20% of adults live with HIV or AIDS, added, "Nearly one million Zambians have [HIV or AIDS]. ... There are children who are helplessly watching their parents die a slow and traumatizing death, leaving them orphans" (Esipisu, Reuters, 11/22).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.