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Kenya's Anglican Church Launches Plan to Combat AIDS, TB, Malaria

In Kenya, the Anglican Church has released its five-year plan to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on the continent. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi.

The top priority of the $2.2 million plan will be to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa through education, leadership, and counseling, and to support those who are living with the virus.

The prevention and care of tuberculosis and malaria, diseases often associated with HIV/AIDS, are the next priorities in the plan, presented in Kenya's capital by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA).

CAPA chairman and Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola launched the plan by citing grim statistics of the three infections, which are the leading causes of death on the continent.

"We have lost millions of young, able-bodied Africans in their prime to the scourge of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis," he said. "It has been said that these preventable and treatable diseases, though deadly, do not discriminate their victims and cut across religion and ethnic barriers. We as a church cannot afford to be indifferent because Christ calls us to proclaim his loving and saving grace to a broken, fragmented, and diseased world, a world in which each of us is directly infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria."

The first plan by CAPA to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria was launched in 2001 in sub-Saharan Africa's 12 Anglican Provinces.

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly hard hit by the scourge of the three diseases. About two-thirds of the 40 million people worldwide living with HIV are located in Africa.

In many sub-Saharan African countries, the number of people with tuberculosis has quadrupled since 1990. TB is the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people, while malaria is responsible for one-fifth of all childhood deaths in Africa.

Archbishop Akinola said Anglican churches have come far in their responses to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

"Looking back today, we want to thank God as all our churches have not only become aware of the dangers we are in, they have actually engaged with those who suffer from these infections and offering help within the scope of available resources," he noted.

The launch of the plan follows a meeting among the Anglican Communion held in Tanzania earlier in the week that attempted to address serious splits in the church over homosexuality and gender issues.

At the worldwide meeting of the 77 million member Anglican Communion, leaders called for the U.S. Episcopal Church to stop blessing same-sex unions and ordaining openly homosexual clergy.

African Church leaders and many parishes in the United States oppose homosexual unions and ordination.