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Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK


Annan warns of Aids disaster

Millions of children in Africa are orphaned by Aids

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to use the first Diana, Princess of Wales memorial lecture to remind the West that while Aids may be coming under control there, the developing world faces unimaginable suffering from the disease.

Martin Dawes in Lake Victoria, Kenya: The adult population is withering
In a BBC interview, Mr Annan explained that he would use the speech in London on Friday to reinforce the message that many countries are being ravaged by Aids.

In Africa, he said, 5,500 people are dying from the disease every day. In some societies life expectancy has been slashed from 70 years to not much more than 40.

[ image: Mr Annan said Princess Diana raised awareness of Aids patients' plight]
Mr Annan said Princess Diana raised awareness of Aids patients' plight
Mr Annan said that he took up the invitation from the National Aids Trust to give the lecture because he believed Princess Diana had made an enormous contribution to the cause.

That was perhaps, he said, because she was a rather vulnerable person herself.

"She could empathise with those who had the disease and bring attention to their plight. And this raised public awareness to levels one could not have imagined."

The two worlds of Aids

Mark Devenport reports from the UN
The secretary-general is making his address in the Bank of England building, at the heart of London's financial centre.

He hopes to encourage international businesses to contribute money to the fight against Aids.

[ image: Drugs like AZT are making a difference in the developed world]
Drugs like AZT are making a difference in the developed world
The BBC's UN Correspondent Mark Devenport points out that the UN is concerned about the growing gap in perceptions between the rich and the poor worlds over the threat of Aids.

The developed countries have seen advances in drug treatments and in life expectancy from Aids sufferers, while the developing world has yet to benefit from these expensive therapies.

Mr Annan said that in some African countries, where Aids is the biggest killer, the disease takes up half of their small health budgets.

He said he was also concerned that because of the stigma attached to Aids, governments were reluctant to face up to the problem. For some people in Africa the name for Aids was "shame has fallen from heaven".

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