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WHO makes progress in Africa's HIV/AIDS fight

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is making steady progress in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic and improving health sectors in 46 African countries.

Dr Louis Sambo, the WHO regional head for Africa, presented results highlighting their work in the areas of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria from the organisation's biennial report at a health conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

"Efforts to scale up access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment in Africa in 2004/05 have resulted in an estimated 800,000 people, representing 17 percent of those in need, gaining access to antiretroviral therapy," he said. Eight countries had achieved TB treatement success rates of 80 percent or higher, and 25 countries had switched to more effective artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat malaria.

Despite these gains, urgent measures were needed to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, which infected 3.2 million people in Africa last year and caused 2.4 million deaths.

Health ministers at the conference discussed ways to boost HIV prevention efforts, lower child mortality rates, access health financing and expand immunisation initiatives.

According to the WHO report, insufficient funding, health worker shortages and poor integration of information systems were hampering efforts to fight disease on the continent.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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