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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 06:52 GMT
Boost for Africa Aids funding
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela wants war to be waged on Aids
The World Bank has approved $500m for the second stage of its programme to combat Aids in Africa.

This takes to $1bn the amount approved by the bank in the current financial year in interest-free loans for African Aids initiatives.

The new money will fund projects more than a dozen sub-Saharan countries.

The announcement came hours after Nelson Mandela spoke of the need for South Africa to fight a war against HIV and Aids and confront the issue of mother-to-child transmission.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who met African leaders a year ago, said intensifying the fight against HIV and Aids was central to the Bank's mission.

Aids in Africa
18 million lives claimed by Aids
28.1 million live with HIV or Aids
More than 9,000 infected each day
Source: World Bank

The new assistance would "dramatically increase" access to prevention, treatment, care and support programmes", the World Bank said in a statement.

Grants are also being made available for projects extending across the borders of several countries, targeting transport routes where HIV transmission risks can be high.

The funds announced also include a $30m credit for a pilot scheme in Senegal to use anti-retroviral therapy - an approach which is expected to be used by other countries in the future.

The World Bank and the United Nations agency UNAIDS estimate that approximately $3bn is needed every year to fund basic prevention, care and treatment programmes in Africa.

Action needed

Former South African President Nelson Mandela said on Thursday his country needed to fight a war against HIV and Aids, in remarks that seem to be tacit criticism of his successor.

The debate... continues to rage in a manner that detracts from what should be our concern in combating this major threat to our future

Nelson Mandela

He was speaking after presenting the 2002 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights to doctors who have pioneered the use of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV-positive pregnant women.

Mr Mandela said that if the virus were to be stopped, the issue of mother-to-child transmission had to be dealt with head-on.

Currently, only about 10% of HIV-positive pregnant women in South Africa have access to the medication which can save their babies from infection.
Source: Medical Research Council

Aids campaign groups in South Africa blame this on President Thabo Mbeki's controversial handling of the crisis - he has queried the link between HIV and Aids, and dubbed anti-retroviral drugs dangerous.

The former leader said the debate over the government's Aids policy was preventing focussed action on fighting the disease.

South Africa has the single biggest HIV-positive population in the world, estimated at five million or 11% of its population.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"Staggering numbers of South African's face death"
See also:

08 Feb 02 | Africa
South Africa awaits Mbeki speech
07 Feb 02 | Africa
Mandela urges 'war' on HIV
19 Dec 01 | Africa
SA to fight Aids drug ruling
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