Published: Saturday 15 March 1997

South African President, Nelson Mandela, recently called upon the global community to act together to wipe out aids, which is wreaking havoc on nations all over the world. "As the freedom of each nation is interdependent with that of others, so too is health and the well-being of peoples... the challenge of aids can be overcome if we work together as a global community," said Mandela. "It is only if we pool our resources, the skills and experience of experts irrespective of political affiliation, we can hope to launch a massive effort to eradicate this disease," he added.

Mandela stressed that if current trends of hiv infections are allowed to continue, the epidemic would cost South Africa one per cent of its gdp by ad 2005. Of the total budget of South Africa, some three-quarters would be consumed by health costs directly associated with the scourge. "Even low-cost alternatives to hospital care would leave us with a significant impact on our health-care budget," said the President.

A recent aids symposium in Burkina Faso revealed that some 75 per cent of the world's carriers live in Africa and annually, more than 100,000 Africans are infected by the hiv virus. In Kigali, Rwanda, two-thirds of hiv-infected children die by the age of three, while in Paris the rate is only 10 per cent.

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