Tutu advocates for HIV positive children

By agency reporter
23 May 2008

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has addressed the 61st World Health Assembly which ends in Geneva tomorrow.

Holding up a t-shirt proclaiming "HIV Positive Kids Need Treatment," he highlighted the need to address the challenges faced in relation to HIV positive children. "Children are dying of easily preventable diseases," he said.

According to the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, almost 800 children die of AIDS-related illnesses every day. The latest figures from UNAIDS indicate that approximately 2.1 million children under 15 are living with HIV; nearly 90 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

At the World Health Assembly, Tutu affirmed the contribution of Christian organisations to international efforts for better health care: "Together WHO and WCC share a common mission to the world, protecting and restoring body, mind, and spirit," he said. "It is important that this is also the 40th anniversary of the Christian Medical Commission, whose values and experience in Primary Health Care informed and shaped the 1974 WHO Guidelines for Primary Health Care, which were reaffirmed at [the 1978 International Conference on Primary Health Care in] Alma Ata. You see, faith and health have been together a very long time."

Tutu served on the World Council of Churches (WCC) staff as associate director of the Theological Education Fund from 1972-1975.

The WCC brought an ecumenical delegation of 118 representatives from grassroots and advocacy movements around the world to the World Health Assembly.

This year's focus was on primary health care, public health, innovation and intellectual property, the rational use of medicines, alcoholism, and nutrition.

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