- National AIDS decision makers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are to converge in Maseru, Lesotho, next week to discuss best practices in fighting the pandemic. National authorities in the world's hardest hit AIDS region have chosen different approaches and hope to learn from each other.
SADC today announced that it was to host the Regional Meeting for the National AIDS Authorities in Maseru from 15 to 17 November. This is the second regional forum for the National AIDS Authorities, which follows the one that was held at Kopanong, South Africa in July 2004.
National AIDS decision makers from the entire SADC Region among other things are set to discuss "the strengthening of national coordination for HIV and AIDS," according to the organisers. The delegates are also to discuss the identification and documentation of "Best Practices" in the SADC region. To achieve this objective, member states have been assigned specific case studies which they will present.
SADC hopes that this mapping and presentation of best practices may give cross-border inspiration in AIDS policies. More concrete results are however also planned. The outputs of the Maseru meeting are to include a "SADC Framework on National and Regional Coordination and Guidelines" for identification and documentation of the best practices in the region.
The conference finally aims at creating regional networks among authorities and organisations working to fight the pandemic. At a regional level, there is very much knowledge about AIDS and anti-AIDS policies, but most decision-makers usually only act nationally or locally. The pandemic is however affecting the entire SADC region strongly.
The key guests who have been invited to address the workshop include the Lesotho Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla, SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Augusto Salomao, the Director of HIV and AIDS at the UNDP Headquarters in New York, Elhadj As Sy.
As a host nation, Lesotho represents key problems in the regional fight to combat the AIDS pandemic. The mountain kingdom has one of the world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates, struggles with profound poverty and periodic food shortages. The government and a large number of organisations have invested much in education and awareness campaigns, but sexual attitudes seem difficult to change.
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