More than one thousand participants from 40 different countries attended the fifth Francophone Conference on HIV/AIDS which took place in Casablanca, Morocco, from 28-31 March.
The conference was aimed at education activists to discuss the social, political and economic dimensions of the AIDS epidemic, to learn about medical progress, and understand HIV-prevention and care.
The EI representatives who attended the event showcased their work on HIV/AIDS prevention through an enormously successful presentation called ‘Live and teach with HIV’ which attracted a lot of interest from the participants.
The Casablanca Conference was an opportunity for EI to publicise what teachers’ unions are doing to support colleagues living with HIV, and to help them continue to practise the profession in an environment that is free from discrimination.
EI’s Education For All-HIV/AIDS Prevention (EFAIDS) programme in Senegal is being rolled out through five separate teacher unions grouped under the Senegalese Committee of Teacher Unions in the Struggle for EFA and Against AIDS (COSSEL). The co-ordinator of COSSELL, Mor Mbengue, who was part of the EI delegation shared his experiences of the work that was being undertaken and presented an update on the activities of the Committee of Action and Research on the Vulnerabilities in the Education Space (CARVEE). This project has been set up by COSSEL to develop a support network for teachers living with HIV. This conference took place at a crucial juncture because 2010 is the deadline for the pledge of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, which was adopted by United Nations member states in 2006.
Sadly, it is all too evident that we remain a long way off reaching this objective as each day that passes sees 7,000 new infections globally, but only 30% of these affected will actually receive anti-retroviral treatment. Without doubt the current financial crisis is taking its toll, but the crisis cannot be used as an excuse by states to not attain the goal of universal access to treatment.
In his speech to the conference the eminent French economist and International Affairs counsellor to the Director of France’s National Agency for Research on AIDS (ANRS) and member of the Consultative Committee on Health of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Jean-Paul Moatti, told delegates that US$200 million are needed each year to achieve universal access to treatment. He argued that the imposition of a modest tax of 0.005% on all inter-bank currency exchange transactions in the four major currencies – which is explained on page 12 of this issue of Worlds of Education – would ensure at least US$400,000 was made available annually for the prevention of new infections and to treat those people who are living with HIV.
By Delphine Sanglan and Julie Kavanagh.
This article was published in Worlds of Education, Issue 34, June 2010.