Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Severe pandemics’ a challenge for Asean leaders, says UNAIDS

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) yesterday agreed to intensify the campaign against HIV-AIDS during a special session at the Shangri-la's Mactan Resort and Spa.

Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS executive director and United Nations undersecretary general, reported before the leaders that in Asia, "the most severe epidemics are in the Asean region" with over 1.5 million people living with HIV.

"The most worrying fact for Asean countries is that Aids affects the most productive sections of your population - the workforce which is the powerhouse of economic development of the region," Piot said. Based on the 2005 yearend figures from Global Report, Thailand has the most number of people, at 580,000, living with HIV among the Asean nations.

Myanmar follows, with 360,000. Third is Vietnam with 260,000.

Aids is among the leading cause of premature deaths among people 25 years old and younger. "At this time of great opportunity, with over 99 percent of Asean's people still uninfected, you can set an example of hope for the world by putting in place a response that halts the epidemic not just for the short term, but for the long term future as well, so that there is no resurgence in the epidemic," Piot said.

The Asean countries must increase their collaboration efforts to prevent the spread of the disease through increased awareness and education.

The leaders also agreed more funds are needed for a full-scale campaign and treatment. The Asean is increasingly vulnerable to Aids because of its growing attraction as a worldwide travel destination.

The leaders emphasized the need for people in the region to share experience and knowledge about the disease and its prevention.

Yesterday was the second Asean special session on HIV-AIDS. The first was held in Brunei in 2001.
Today, leaders of 16 nations from South Korea to Singapore are expected to agree to boost Asia's energy efficiency and combat climate change by seeking new fuel sources, particularly biofuels.

The Cebu Goals on East Asian Energy Security is to be signed tomorrow by the heads of government at the East Asia Summit, which brings together the 10-member Asean and their six dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

he plan aims to help countries reduce their dependence on conventional fuels through intensified energy efficiency programs, expansion of renewable energy systems and biofuel production and utilization, according to a draft copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press. The accord does not say what types of biofuels might be emphasized and does not give specific details of the kinds of energy efficiency programs being considered.

But some ASEAN countries such as Malaysia have started working to commercially produce alternative fuels such as biodiesel, comprising mainly palm oil, and ethanol made from the sap of nipah trees. The blueprint provides no timeframe for these goals, which underscore increasing efforts by Asean in recent years to enhanceenergy cooperation and alleviate the impact of high oil prices.

The energy security agreement also encourages countries to explore possible modes of fuel stockpiling through regional arrangements, and urges oil-rich nations to channel petroleum profits toward equity investments and low-interest loan facilities for other developing countries.

Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (MBG/With AP)


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