In Norway, Annan urges long-term commitment to fight against AIDS

21 August 2001

The fight against AIDS, especially to stem the growing number of children orphaned by the disease in places such as Africa, is a long-term effort and requires everyone's involvement to make a difference, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in Oslo as he concluded his official visit to Norway.

Speaking to the press after a luncheon with the Norwegian Minister of International Development, Anne Kristin Sydnes, the Secretary-General said that in addition to the 13 million children in the world orphaned by AIDS, "we are also extremely concerned with what I consider the cruellest of all transmissions, from mother to child. It is one area that we also need to do quite a lot of work on and I think there are lots of organizations who are now becoming engaged."

Mr. Annan said he hoped that "we will be persistent, we will stay the course and do whatever we can to defeat this epidemic, both in terms of re-energizing scientific research and the search for a vaccine and cure, as well as giving assistance to those who are infected and harping strongly on the message of prevention."

As for the epidemic's long-term consequences in Africa, the Secretary-General said that if not handled properly, AIDS had the potential to take away the continent's future. "Some of the most productive people and people in their prime are being killed by the disease," Mr. Annan said. "The percentage of people between the ages of 14 and 42 who are dying of the disease is quite high, and these are the people you rely upon to develop society, so it also has impact on economic development and exacerbates the poverty."

"This is why it is important that we do all we can to try and stem the spread of disease through education and making it possible for everyone who is likely to be infected, to know how to defend himself or herself, and provide care to those who have been infected," he stressed.

The Secretary-General had started his day with a private breakfast with one of his advisers, Thorvald Stoltenberg, the former Foreign Minister of Norway. Mr. Annan then held a meeting with his Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, followed by a tour of Norway's Parliament with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, before his lunch with Ms. Sydnes.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General and his wife laid a wreath on the grave of Trygve Lie, the first UN Secretary-General, before leaving the country.


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