Despite the contributions made by the World Council of Churches (WCC) towards “zero new infections, zero HIV related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination” there is “more we can do,” said Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri.
Dr Phiri, the WCC’s associate General Secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia, was speaking at an international conference on the “Global Race to Save Lives from HIV and AIDS” in Lilongwe, Malawi.
She said that it remains a strategic role of the WCC to bring various partners together to prepare steps for better mutual cooperation, transparency of information and better coordination in the field of HIV and AIDS.
Phiri was speaking at the conference held from 23-26 October 2012 by the Global Working Group of the SAVE campaign, Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA) and the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV and AIDS (MANERELA+).
In her speech, Phiri spoke about the WCC’s engagement in the global response to HIV, which she said was reaffirmed at the WCC’s 8th Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998.
She introduced the theme of the WCC’s upcoming 10th Assembly “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”. More needs to be done, said Phiri, in order to reflect on the “meaning of continued suffering due to HIV and AIDS in its entire dimension among people who have strong faith in the God of life.”
Dr Phiri mentioned the WCC’s Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa, which she said has focused its work on “equipping the churches and theological institutions in Africa to be HIV competent.”
She said the initiative’s impact “went beyond the continent to network with other churches and religions in Asia and North America to share its resources for theological reflection.”
The conference brought together in Malawi last week around 300 religious leaders, Malawian government representatives, HIV and AIDS practitioners, people living with HIV, educationists, representatives of local and international non-governmental organisations, advocates, members of civil society, journalists, development and community workers.
At the conference, a petition was made from the Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi and the Pan African Positive Women's Coalition.
The petition requested support for the cause of positive women and girls on the continent with respect to their human rights, prevention care, treatment, support, education and economic empowerment.
It was supported by the EHAIA’s regional staff from Eastern, Southern and Portuguese speaking Africa, who also presented their work at the gathering.
The conference attempts to promote collaboration among faith leaders and other stakeholders to create an effective enabling environment to minimise new HIV infections and mitigate impact on those affected.
* Global race to save lives from HIV and AIDS: http://www.save.net16.net/