AIDS Project Launched to Help Mozambique

Sant´Egidio Cites the Nation´s Few Doctors and Numerous Orphans

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ROME, DEC. 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Community of Sant´Egidio hopes to collect $18 million to support a five-year program in the struggle against AIDS in Mozambique.



The initiative, presented in Rome on Tuesday by this Catholic movement, provides for the prevention and treatment of people affected by the HIV virus, especially pregnant women and children.

Father Matteo Zuppi, program coordinator, explained to the press that Mozambique has 400 doctors to care for a population of 18 million -- one for every 45,000 people. Annual health expenditures are under $2 per person, he said.

Sant´Egidio quoted data stating that almost 14% of the population over 14 is seropositive. AIDS is fast becoming the primary cause of death among children under 5.

Already, AIDS robs each Mozambican of 10 years of life, and 160,000 children orphaned by the disease, data state.

"AIDS is globalizing and strikes different societies," Father Zuppi said. "Precisely because of this, a global response must be given, born of the synergy between public and private institutions and civil society."

The Sant´Egidio initiative is being launched in cooperation with the Mozambican government, and has the support of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Italian Higher Institute of Health.

Other participants in the project are the Lazzaro Spallanzi Institute for Infectious Diseases of Rome, and Sue Ryder Care, an association specialized in home care of the terminally ill.

Sant´Egidio was founded in Rome in 1968. It was the official mediator of peace negotiations that ended the civil war in the southern African nation in 1992.