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SUMMIT ON THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH COMMUNITY IN GLOBAL HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS
JULY 25, 2012
Rick and Kay Warren, Co-Founders of Saddleback Church
Rich Stearns, President, World Vision
Carolyn Woo, President, Catholic Relief Services
Dave Evans, President, Food for the Hungry
The Board of Directors of PACANet-USA was honored to be invited to such an extraordinary session as part of the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. Some 1000 people of faith attended this special session with great enthusiasm. President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Governor Mitt Romney all appeared by video with words of support and encouragement to the faith community for what they are doing to put an end to HIV/AIDS worldwide. President Obama commented on the 4.5 million people from around the globe who are receiving medication and he is committed to increasing that number. Michael Leavitt spoke for the Republican candidate Mitt Romney by stating that the Republican will care for AIDS patients better with more compassion. “The way our country expresses its compassion is through the Faith Based Organizations (FBOs). He continued to speak of how we can provide relief all around the world through FBOs. We are all God’s children and we should not let bureaucracy prevent FBOs from doing their work.
The role of the Faith Community in Creating an AIDS Free Generation was the topic for the first panel discussion and lead by Dr. Kent Hill of World Vision. The first speaker was Ambassador Eric Goosby and head of PEFFAR. The panelist comments were brief but succinct. Ambassador Goosby expressed concerned for getting services to the rural areas. He recommended inclusion of civil society and increasing partnerships. He was followed by MP Elioda Tomwesigye of Uganda who reported that Uganda is 85% Christian and was at 18% prevalence for HIV/AIDS in 1990. Now due to treatment and prevention the rate is down to 5%. Bruce Wilkinson from Catholic Medical Missions Board stated that we have learned to love more. He pointed to three things as we move to the future. They were:
1) keep the love, focus on the mission and learn the science;
2) focus on adolescent girls and their socialization;
3) work with the men as they are leaders of the families and they need to learn appropriate behaviors and responsibilities.
Christo Greying from World Vision commented that he has seen a transformation in HIV+ people. They are saying “Free at last, Thank God, I'm free at last”. Ambassador Goosby explained that there is still more need for dialogue for communities regarding monogamy particularly in Africa. Other comments were more push for medical care and less for prevention; another stated the need for a push for behavior intervention and more studies. Dr. Hill as the moderator concluded that the need is for both behavioral interventions and medicine particularly where FBO are dealing with multiple concurrent partners.
PICTURE OF PACANET-USA WITH MP TOMWESIGYE OF UGANDA
Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona was introduced by Congressman Mark Green. Congressman Franks thanked Pastor Rick and Kay Warren for sponsoring this event. He stated that the funds needed to be expanded in to the far reaching areas. If HIV+ mothers will be able to rock their HIV negative babies, we will all stand before God one day and hear well done. The FBOs are suited to care and not judge. Pastor Warren commented that we as Christians need to pray and pay. We serve in our local churches but we need to serve in indigenous churches as well. We need to get orphan children into homes instead of building orphanages. Children need families and a sense of belonging. The hardest challenge is to give of our time. There are more than 163 million orphan children. We need to work on removing the barriers to domestic adoption and international adoption. The world needs more love were resounding words from Pastor Warren.
Lois Quam of the State Department, Dave Evans from Food for the Hungry and Bishop Joshua Banda from Zambia addressed similar issues. They spoke of FBO being international NGO partners, change agents and spiritual leaders of the world. In Zambia, FBO provide 35% of the health care. There is still the issue with adolescents regarding the clash of faith vs medicine. There is still the need to promote faithfulness and abstinence, particularly to our youth. There was a sentiment to stop so many abortions. Some suggested that the nations come to terms with the mistakes, take responsibility, keep the baby, offer hope and care, and try a holistic approach.
PICTURE OF BISHOP BANDA AND BOARD
All must be heard if the epidemic is to be understood. Africa HIV is mostly in the heterosexual population. Homosexuality is against the law in almost all of Africa. Some of PEPFAR’s policies may have to change to reach all infected people in Africa. The church has to walk the talk as servants of GOD.
Congressman Mark Green and former Ambassador to Tanzania introduced Republican Senator Lindsay Graham from South Carolina. Senator Graham praised President Bush for PEPFAR and stated that President Bush was his hero. He felt that initiative gave the people in Africa hope. America has a foothold in Africa and said jokingly that we (republicans) have a higher approval rating in Africa than in America. FBOs should form a coalition that will stand behind foreign aid to poor countries. Millions are alive today because of PEPFAR and spending money wisely. It would be great if 10% could be carved out of the AIDS fund for orphan children.
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