United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said he hoped the agenda of the upcoming Group of Eight summit would include the problem of HIV/AIDS, which he described as a "scourge of frightening proportions" affecting all parts of the world.
"It is serious in Asia, in eastern Europe, in the Caribbean, even in the United States," Mr. Annan said at a press conference in Geneva, where he is attending the annual meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council. "The statistics this year indicated that the infection rate has risen dramatically. So we cannot let our guards down and I hope everyone will join the fight."
The Secretary-General said the Global AIDS and Health Fund he initiated earlier this year was doing well and that he hoped that by the end of the G8's meeting in Genoa, Italy, there would be pledges of over $1 billion. "But let us not forget that the target is an additional $7 billion to $10 billion a year," Mr. Annan added. "This is not a fund limited to Governments alone, it is open to private companies, to foundations, to individuals, and I think if we all pull our efforts we can make the target."
On other issues before the G8, the Secretary-General said that the question of poverty was an important one, as was the whole issue of globalization and the resulting inequalities between countries. "I think it is important that we recognize that while globalization can be a positive force and has been a positive force and is not a new phenomenon, we need to take into consideration the inequities and the concerns of the poor and the marginalized," he said. "This is something I hope the G8 will be very conscious about."