Tuesday, June 20, 2006

UNDP wants Malaysia to do more on AIDS

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: While Malaysia has met the development targets of the United Nations in several areas, it is still wanting when it comes to combating the HIV/AIDS scourge.
“This is very serious and Malaysia needs to work hard in this area,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) expert Dr Richard Leete.
“The number of people infected with HIV/AIDS has increased over the last 10 years.
“In 1995, there were 15,000 people with HIV/AIDS, and the number has since jumped to 71,000,” said Dr Leete, the UNDP resident representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
He said discriminatory practices against people with HIV/AIDS should be eliminated.
Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases are among the United Nations' millennium development goals. These include eradicating poverty, achieving universal education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and improving health.
The other goals are ensuring environmental sustainability, addressing the needs of migrants and refugees, and developing a global partnership for development.
Dr Leete recently launched a report on the goals from the human rights perspective, which was compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia from a dialogue that it jointly organised with the UNDP.
On the eradication of poverty, Dr Leete said Malaysia had managed to reduce the problem dramatically although there were still many rural and indigenous people who were living on meagre earnings.
“Poverty personifies the digital divide between the urban and the rural,” he said.
“For example, the ethnic people in Bau, Sarawak, have good food to eat but they do not have electricity or modern sanitation.”
He added that the UNDP was happy that the 9th Malaysia Plan had made a reference to the plight of indigenous communities and the need for measures to reduce the disparities.
Another thing that needs focus is the rights of elderly people in rural areas.
Said Dr Leete: “Some elderly people do not even have pension schemes. So, in short, they work till they die.
“They have a right to a decent life in old age, especially the elderly women.”

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