By Jason Meizels and Arianna Chen
Out of the 34 million HIV positive people in the world, 23.8 million are from Africa. Only 5 million out of every 10 million HIV patients in Africa are able to receive treatment due to the lack of healthcare providers. In their first session, the African Union (AU) committee tackled the issue of the HIV/AIDs epidemic head on.
All delegates collaborated to seek a solution that would reduce the risk of spreading HIV and improve the health of African people. In a moderated caucus on education, the delegate from South Africa stated that the socioeconomic status of nations throughout the AU fuels a vicious cycle in regards to the pandemic; poverty breeds illness. The delegate suggested enlarging the participation of nonprofit organizations in tackling the issue and instating sex education in primary schools.
Other notable ideas proposed during this caucus included turning to the private sector for help in the marketing and distribution of healthcare, as well as the taxation of all members of the AU to finance educational programs.
However, in another moderated caucus discussing funding, Egypt spoke out against taxation and asserted that most nations in the AU could not afford to pay tariffs. This, Egypt said, would only perpetuate the problem, since – as the delegate from Gabon stated – education is a long-term solution. Instead, infrastructure, the construction of centralized and localized clinics, should currently be the primary focus of funding, the Egyptian representative said. The delegate from South Africa advocated for the formation of a coalition with the UN among all the countries who participated in the session, with the stipulation that the UN provide funding for educational purposes. In an interview, the delegate from Uganda agreed, declaring, “outside help is the solution.”
As the end of the session drew near, various strategies, which are mentioned throughout this article, were proposed to help the committee move towards a successful resolution. The AU made significant progress in their very first session.