World Summit of Mayors from Africa and the Diaspora focuses on HIV in urban areas

Bookmark and Share

Feature story

World Summit of Mayors from Africa and the Diaspora focuses on HIV in urban areas

22 December 2011

Mayor Robert Bowser (left), President of the National Conference of Black Mayors, and Dr. Djibril Diallo, UNAIDS Senior Advisor, at the World Summit of Mayors.
Credit: Logan Coles

More than 250 mayors from sub-Saharan Africa and of African descent from the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America focused on strengthening the AIDS response in urban areas during an historic conference held in Dakar, Senegal from 15-19 December.

The 2011 World Summit of Mayors Leadership Conference was hosted by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and co-organized by the US-based National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), the National Association of Senegalese Mayors, and UNAIDS.

At a plenary session chaired by the mayors of Dakar and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, delegates engaged in a discussion on HIV risks, prevention strategies and the need to end stigma and discrimination.

“Today we can say with confidence that HIV prevention programmes are producing results. We can report today that 22 countries in Africa have lowered the rate of new HIV infections by 25% since 2001”, said Djibril Diallo, UNAIDS Senior Advisor, in a statement on behalf of UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.

Citing the challenges posed by the global financial crisis, Dr. Diallo urged municipal leaders to reinforce their efforts to find ways to take greater ownership of the AIDS response and promote shared responsibility. “This will bring the world closer to the UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths,” he added.

The plenary session concluded with a proposal for pilot partnerships for HIV prevention between 10 cities and towns in sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas. The proposal was incorporated in the Summit’s action plan. The municipalities will share information on their five most effective activities to reduce HIV infections and ways to increase budget allocations for HIV prevention as well as to improve prevention services. The organizers plan to enlist several large U.S. cities, such as Atlanta, Las Vegas and Washington, DC in the pilot initiative.

The foundational belief of the Summit is that cooperation between municipalities on the development challenges facing cities on the global landscape, including the HIV epidemic, is essential to the improvement of the well-being of all citizens in urban areas

Mayor Robert L. Bowser of East Orange, New Jersey, President of the National Conference of Black Mayors

“The foundational belief of the Summit is that cooperation between municipalities on the development challenges facing cities on the global landscape, including the HIV epidemic, is essential to the improvement of the well-being of all citizens in urban areas,” said Mayor Robert L. Bowser of East Orange, New Jersey, President of the NCBM, whose membership includes 682 mayors with a constituency of 55 million people across the U.S.

The World Summit of Mayors was convened within the framework of the UN International Year for People of African Descent 2011. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 200 million people in the Americas identify themselves as being of African descent, as do millions more in other parts of the world.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Senegal, Bintou Djibo, saluted the Summit’s efforts to forge international partnerships for development between mayors of the Diaspora and in sub-Saharan Africa. “Cooperation between mayors can promote decentralized governance that takes local conditions into account, and advance progress towards the achievement of the MDGs by 2015,” said Ms Djibo.