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Friday, 27 April, 2001, 22:47 GMT 23:47 UK
Annan's 'Marshall Plan' for Aids
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan addresses Aids conference
Mr Annan is calling for a social revolution in Africa
By Barnaby Phillips in Abuja

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced the establishment of a special fund to fight Aids.

When you look at the numbers, it's almost like a third world war

Kofi Annan
Speaking at a meeting of African leaders in the Nigerian capital Abuja, he called on donor governments and rich companies to donate billions of dollars to the fund.

Mr Annan told the BBC that Aids was Africa's greatest development challenge:

Aids patient
More than 24m people in Africa are thought to be HIV-positive

"The Aids epidemic has killed more people than all the conflicts and the wars in Africa. When you look at the numbers, it's almost like a third world war.

"At the end of the Second World War we were all shaken, we came up with the Marshall Plan.

"Many more people have died from this epidemic than that war. What are we doing about this?"

Empower the people

But Mr Annan is not only asking the outside world to help, he is also calling for a social revolution within Africa.

He says women need more power and the stigma and silence that still surround Aids have to be done away with.

Flags of some of the countries participating to the summit
Nearly 50 African heads of state attended the summit
"The more we speak about it, the more we're empowering the people, including those with Aids HIV," he said.

"They will demand that their governments act. Parents will demand that the governments have to protect their children."

The UN had hoped that more African presidents would be here in Abuja. In the event about 15 turned up.

Mr Annan believes that it is essential that all African countries do whatever they can to stop Aids, no matter how meagre their resources, otherwise the rest of the world may not be inclined to help.

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See also:

14 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Words of hope from child Aids victim
19 Apr 01 | Africa
Cheaper drugs a long way off
19 Apr 01 | Health
SA Aids case: The repercussions
19 Apr 01 | Health
Aids epidemic 'underestimated'
15 Mar 01 | Africa
Analysis: Aids drugs and the law
21 Feb 01 | Business
Glaxo offers cheaper Aids drugs
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
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