Mbeki Gives ‘Upbeat’ Speech About South Africa’s Future, Scarcely Mentions HIV/AIDS
In his annual State of the Nation speech to Parliament Friday, South African President Thabo Mbeki issued a "glowing assessment" of the country's "future prospects," but scarcely mentioned the issue of HIV/AIDS, the Associated Press reports. While Mbeki noted that the government has made "huge" strides in addressing the "social needs" of the country's poor blacks, he made only "passing mention" of AIDS or HIV, which infects about 10% of the country's population. (Associated Press, 2/9). BBC News reports that Mbeki mentioned AIDS "in the same breath as other diseases of poverty such as cholera and tuberculosis," saying that all would continue to be the focus of a national prevention campaign (BBC News, 2/9). The Associated Press reports that Mbeki's speech came at a low point in public morale "in the wake of rampant AIDS, crime and unemployment." Richard Calland, an analyst with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, said the speech was Mbeki's "best" since taking office, but noted the lack of HIV/AIDS mention. "It was open, inclusive and very focused in its strategic direction. The major blemish was the absence of any statement dealing with HIV," he said (Cohen, Associated Press, 2/9). Mbeki has been criticized over the past year for "failing to address" South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic (BBC News, 2/9).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.