The most important in this week’s headlines out of and concerning Africa, for those who need help catching up.
This week, Ethiopia continues their successful fight against HIV/AIDS, Zambian President promises to have a female running mate in upcoming election, and Nigeria’s army takes on Human Rights violations.
Ethiopia Plans to Eliminate AIDS by 2030
Ethiopia’s Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) believes that the disease could be eradicated in the country by 2030.
Since 2010, Ethiopia has focused on reducing the number of new HIV/AIDS cases that occur each year. They have done this by focusing on three core areas: disease prevention, better care and support for those infected, and gathering strategic data.
Prevention and care are obvious solutions, but data is sometimes overlooked. Gathering data about infection rates has allowed HAPCO to identify areas and individuals most at risk, and focus their efforts on these areas. Prevention has been done predominantly through education in schools and youth centers. Health facilities offer counseling, testing, and anti-retroviral treatments.
Their efforts have been extremely successful. In 2010, 70,000 people died of the virus, but by 2015 that number had dropped by 70%, thanks to access to anti-retrovirals. The number of new cases also also dropped dramatically, from 0.28% to 0.03%.
HAPCO plans to continue its efforts, planning to prevent more than 500,000 deaths and 80,000 new infections by 2020. They will also focus on making anti-retrovirals available to more children and those in remote locations, and continuing to educate people about sexual health. They believe it is entirely possible that the disease will be eradicated by 2030.
President Lungu Vows to Pick Female Running Mate
Zambian President Edgar Lungu is running for re-election this year, and has promised to choose a woman as his Vice Presidential running mate. Lungu is known for selecting women to be in his cabinet, including current Vice President Inonge Wina. It is not clear if Wina will remain Lungu’s running mate in the upcoming election.
Politicians from the Patriotic Front Party are vying to be Lungu’s running mate, but he has urged the women of his country to be active in politics, encouraging them to vote and run for office. Lungu is not the first Zambian President to include women in his government. His predecessor, Michael Sata, also appointed women to high positions of power.
The decision to open the office was made after Nigerian soldiers were accused of human rights offenses against citizens during the fight against Boko Haram. The Nigerian military has denied the accusations of abuse. Despite their denial, high ranking officials in the Nigerian army met with members of Amnesty International to discuss the concerns.
The office will focus on training soldiers to respect citizens and their rights, as well as providing a place for citizens to make official complaints. Soldiers are being encouraged to report fellow soldiers, without fear of being punished by their superior officers. The military is working with the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, and the Nigerian Bar Association in an attempt to make sure that there is no corruption and that claims are investigated.
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