Andrea Riccardi at the 8th Conference of the DREAM program

The speech by Andrea Riccardi at the 8th Conference of the DREAM (Drug Resource Enhancement Against AIDS and Malnutrition).<br><br>The DREAM program is sponsored by the Community of Sant'Egidio and is dedicated primarily to the interruption of the transmission of HIV from HIV-positive mother to the fetus.<br><br>Read more

Andrea Riccardi, riccardi andrea, DREAM, Sant'Egidio, Community of Sant'Egidio, Africa, Drug Resource Enhancement Against AIDS and Malnutrition, Disease Relief through Excellent and Advanced Means, AIDS, HIV, children, AIDS children, malnutrition
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[Andrea Riccardi]: "I would like, first of all, greet the Secretary of State of His Holiness, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who by his presence here at this conference dedicated to African patients, shows the his personal and Holy See's great interest, for the great questions of the world's pain, which is the main, central concerns for his commitment and above all the Pope's service; I believe that this presence is very significant for us and is a source of inspiration. Enhances our conference the presence of the Premiere Dame of the Republic of Guinea, Madame Condé, we heard and please convey to President our greetings and our closeness. Greetings to all: the civil authorities, Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community of Sant'Egidio, the friends operators of DREAM; I greet in particular the President of the Lazio Region, the dear Renata Polverini, and all other authorities present: health ministers, representatives from 20 African countries and ambassadors here present. The Ministry of international cooperation underscores the interest of Italy for these issues; Yet Europe is experiencing a period of deep economic crisis. But this Europe watches with great interest to Africa, an Africa of youngs (70% of African population is under the age of 30 years); This Africa is experiencing a wind of renewal and rebirth. Young Africans have a great desire for the future. Moreover, today Africa is handling his future and to Africa many look with interest - I think about the presence of China and India, Brazil and, more recently, Turkey -. It is emerging in African a middle class of youngs that wants to develop and study; and for the first time in Africa, the percentage of poor dropped to below 50%. This is a very positive data, although in some African countries increases the gap between a rich minority and the mass of the excluded. However, in many African countries there is a significant GDP growth; GDP grows today more of yesterday and Africa is hoping for a better future. These data are extremely positive, but unfortunately - unfortunately you have to say - on this future there is a serious mortgage, there is a very serious mortgage, and is represented, inter alia, by the tragedy of AIDS. The numbers of this epidemic speak for themselves: 33 million sufferers in the world, 23 million (70% of all patients) are in Africa, 23 million is an average country, It is the nation of AIDS patients in Africa. Every day, approximately 1,000 children worldwide contract the HIV, and unfortunately we have to say that 500 of these children will die because it is impossible to access treatment. Of these 500 children, 9 out of 10 live in sub- Saharan Africa. Because of vertical transmission, that is, during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, 9 out of 10 children become sick with AIDS. In addition, this infection raises the risk of death for the mother. A recent study by UN agencies also estimated 18,000 women die each year due childbirth or HIV infection. Avoid transmission of the virus from mother to child delivering therapy, it means reducing maternal mortality, too high in Africa. Because AIDS does not only punish national systems, AIDS has tragic repercussions on life, the economy of the countries: it striks workers, teachers, it freezes development. The high prevalence of AIDS in Africa, unfortunately, has reversed the trend of growth in life expectancy, which since 60s is growing. AIDS creates a crisis of development with multiple effects: reduced life expectancy, increasing the early deaths among young people and youngadults people; that affects people over the more productive years, more creative years of their life. AIDS increases poverty, destroys life and destroys hope. But we know that in developed countries is virtually eliminates the transmission from mother to child, and this, we know, is due to treatment. Progress has been made. If we look at the last 15 years of history, we can see great victories: 5 million lives have been saved, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, it prevents the transmission between mother and child, mortality rates are decreasing. In short, things are, in developed countries, greatly, rapidly improved: we have new scientific instruments, therapeutic possibilities to prevent these infections. And here it seems to me the central question of our conference: and in Africa? What do we do? In Africa, what do we do? What do we do about this serious mortgage that weighs on the future of African continent? How much will is there to act at this level in Africa? The program DREAM, which I followed since birth, DREAM is born with the new century; in a certain sense DREAM is the fruit of the Great Jubilee, It is the result of a hope born in front of the meeting, thanks to the meeting of desperation of many African mothers who saw dying their children. Today, it represents an example of efficacy for the treatment of AIDS in Africa: 180,000 patients, 33 medical centers, 20 laboratories in 10 African countries, an African staff well trained, the active participation of patients. I met so many times the operators, the sick, the DREAM's clinical centers during my trips to Africa; I saw so many children born healthy, thanks to effective clinical protocols. Dear friends, treat and prevent AIDS means helping people, as Renata Polverini said, but it means helping entire countries to grow. Preventing transmission from mother to child, helping mother to survive allows to hope for healthy young generation, young generations that will build a better future for African countries. I must say, we have to know, care, prevention has a cost. But I also want to remind to stingy of our times (and here's a big responsibility of North and South governments), I would also remember that no cure has a higher cost, you pay over the years; When we do not care, we contracts a debt that we will pay for decades, a cost that at long-term - authoritative epidemiologists and even economists have explained it - a cost that is much, much higher than the price of care. Pay to combat AIDS not only saves human lives, but it is a way of investing in the future. Who care AIDS patients, who prevents transmission between mother and child, invests in Africa and saves lives. Investing in the treatment of AIDS, in fact, we release human energies that would be lost. The theme of this conference, entitled funny, exciting, programmatic: «Hooray mothers! Hooray children!» points out another fact: the centrality of the African family as the root for the society development. Save the family means to save humanity of the African society; to cure is to save the family and to save the family is to save the community. This many authoritative presences, scientifically, politically, I venture to say, experientially - because this conference collects many women and men who have a great experience about African soil - well, all these presences encourage us to work on this road, as the DREAM program has been doing for more than 10 years. We invest in caring, we invest in prevention, using effective treatment protocols. I believe, and I conclude, that there is need of courage of a choice. Which father, which mother would not give the best care for their children? Today, children, mothers in Africa ask the courage to choose to care. Today, Europe can and must look at Africa with this responsibility. 50 years ago, the great Senegalese President Leopold Sedar Senghor launched the idea of ​​EurAfrica, complementarity between Europe and Africa. And as said Ms. Condé: «The commitment today is partagé». EurAfrica is to work together to defeat AIDS, it is a commitment that we are passionate about, is a commitment that will build a strong relationship between Europe and Africa. To save a life today is to save a continent, is to ensure a better future for Africa and for Europe. Thank you."