The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), the coordinating body of the Anglican Church in Africa, held a September 1-2 consultation in Nairobi, Kenya, that brought together former African heads of state, religious leaders and non-governmental organizations to discuss the effects of and responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa in the context of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Meeting under the theme "Making Leadership Work," the participants discussed the development of a Network of African Leaders Against HIV and AIDS, which would be committed to providing necessary leadership and momentum to develop a dedicated long-term advocacy drive to mobilize an effective response to HIV and AIDS at all levels.
Speaking during the official opening of the two-day meeting, Kenya's vice president, Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka, congratulated CAPA for inviting this group of leaders to the consultative dialogue. "This forum represents the perfect opportunity to tap into the leaders' wisdom and charisma and ... enlist their support in efforts to scale up the continental response to the greatest challenge of our time," he said.
The Most Rev. Ian Ernest, CAPA chairman and archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean, said that CAPA was using the forum as a springboard to mobilize partnerships with key players throughout Africa and to stimulate leaders to renew forcefully their commitment to serve the continent as it seeks liberation from bad governance, poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, among other issues.
"CAPA, which expresses the voice of Anglican Christians in Africa, does not wish to be a political voice," he said. "It only calls for collaborative leadership as it wishes to express the will of God. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. No political program can claim to express this will of God."
Ernest also emphasized that the focus on collaborative leadership and innovative approaches by CAPA and its partners "aims at converting the emerging presence of individual and collective leadership in the area of HIV and AIDS into a powerful, transformative caucus. This will certainly help us to tackle more efficiently the difficulties that we face in our fight against the AIDS pandemic and other related issues that affect the lives of our people."
The forum aimed to bring a commitment from its participants toward managing the effects of HIV/AIDS by improving access to universal treatment and care to the infected and also prevention and eradication of poverty among the people of Africa.
At the end of the two days the leaders agreed unanimously to work together with renewed commitment to overcome the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to reverse the current situation.
The full text of a joint communiqué released at the conclusion of the consultation follows.
We, former African Heads of State, religious leaders and non-governmental organizations engaged in combating HIV and AIDS, convening in Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), have engaged in a consultative dialogue on HIV and AIDS in Africa in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The purpose of this dialogue is to develop a Network of African Leaders Against HIV and AIDS, committed to providing necessary leadership to develop a dedicated long-term advocacy drive to mobilize an effective response to HIV and AIDS and to encourage active citizens as agents of change in Africa.
We are committed to collective responsibility to address HIV and AIDS as the greatest development challenge in Africa, a continent carrying 25 percent of the global disease burden of HIV and AIDS, yet forming only 10 percent of the world's population.
We declare this to be a historic moment, in which political and religious leaders will work together with renewed commitment to overcome the HIV pandemic and reverse the current situation.
Recalling the 2001 Abuja Declaration on Health, through the stewardship of religious institutions and political leaders, we commit to overcoming all forms of inequality and taking decisive leadership in advocating for the achievement of HIV and AIDS related MDGs by 2015, through the following actions:
1. We shall intensify our focus on mobilizing our communities to overcome the consequences of stigma, lack of awareness and knowledge, and shall increase care and support for people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, including vulnerable children.
2. We shall mobilize health professionals and community health workers to develop long-term strategies for community-based initiatives against HIV and AIDS.
3. As a Pan African initiative of religious and political leaders, eminent persons and civil society, we shall mobilize partnerships with local and international stakeholders so as to engage in effective and sustainable interventions.
4. We shall provide space for dialogue between leaders and vulnerable people, including youth and people living with HIV and AIDS, so as to learn from each other and devise new solutions to address the challenges of HIV and AIDS on the continent.
5. Given the fact that all causes of conflicts in Africa cannot equal the tragedy of HIV and AIDS, we request that our governments declare a war on the HIV pandemic and proactively mobilize a powerful response.
6. We demand that as a matter of urgency, our governments translate policies into action by allocating at least 15 percent of their national budgets to health, including programs to ensure universal access to prevention and treatment for HIV and AIDS by 2010.
7. We call upon our governments and civil society to be resilient, to develop strong capacity to overcome the challenges of the HIV pandemic, and to identify opportunities for achieving HIV and AIDS related MDG targets.
8. Given that HIV and AIDS is not only a health and moral problem, we hereby resolve to address the vulnerability of African men and women using all available cultural resources.
9. We shall facilitate the strengthening of families and social structures to withstand the impact of the HIV pandemic, by working with governments, the international community, other stakeholders and civil society.
10. We affirm the role of religious, political and cultural institutions in encouraging young and vulnerable people to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health.
11. We shall listen and dialogue with our communities, particularly those vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, and commit ourselves to speaking openly about the pandemic.
12. We resolve not to lose this opportunity to bridge the gap between medical and spiritual approaches to the pandemic.
We hereby conclude that we shall hold each other accountable to these commitments. We shall do everything within our means and power to end stigma, denial and discrimination related to HIV and AIDS, to ensure our people live in safety and health, and to assist in achieving the MDGs through an inter-faith approach. We are committed to enabling the people of Africa to live lives of dignity.
H.E. Hon. Dr. Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, vice president of Kenya
Hon. Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, former prime minister of Tanzania and former secretary general of the Organisation for African Unity H.E. Mr. Azarias Ruberwa, former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo
H.E. Mr Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former president of Tanzania
Archbishop Ian Arnest, Indian Ocean
Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Rwanda
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Nigeria
Archbishop Henri Isingoma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa, Tanzania
Bishop Paul Yugusuk, Sudan
Bishop John Nduwayo, Burundi
Bishop Samuel S. Kaziimba, Uganda
Bishop Dr. Jo Seoka, South Africa
Bishop John Otoo, West Africa
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Kenya
Bishop Francis Loyo, Sudan
Archbishop Emeritus Benjamin Nzimbi, Kenya
Rachel Carnegie, United Kingdom
Archbishop Mweresa Kivuli II, Organization of African Instituted Churches
The Rev. Canon Dr. Akiri Mwita, Tanzania
The Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha
The Rev. Joseph Galgalo, Kenya
The Rev. Canon Naomi Waqo, Kenya
The Rev. Pauline Wanjiru, Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa
Canon Grace Kaiso, Kenya
Prof. Miriam Were, Kenya
Katherine Lay, Oxfam GB
Rajiv Dua, Oxfam GB
Kavengo Matundu, UN Millennium Campaign
Sylvia Mwichuli, UN Millennium Campaign
Peter Okaalet, MAP International
John Muhoho, Kenya
Jane Ng'ang'a, KENERELA Home Based Care Project
Purity Thuo, KENERELA Home Based Care Project
Beatrice Wanjohi, Church Mission Society Africa
Brian Kagoro, Action Aid
Ruth Masha, Action Aid
Emmanuel Olatunji, Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa
Joseph Nyanzi, Uganda
Lee Hogan, Anglican Health Network
Julius Oladipo, Kenya
Joseph Wangai, Kenya
The Rev. Rhoda Luvuno, Kenya
Julius Oladipo, Kenya
Nicholas Otieno, Kenya