Equatorial Guinea Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and UNICEF Refute Erroneous AIDS Prevalence Figures

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Equatorial Guinea's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and UNICEF have officially refuted erroneous AIDS prevalence figures published by some international media.

In its official statement, UNICEF said, "..we wish to dissociate ourselves from such erroneous information published by the press, and to refute it, because UNICEF never alluded to any data statistics on HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea."

UNICEF said that a presentation given by one of its officials had been"misrepresented" in some press reports. The UN organization said that it works with the government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea "in a framework of trust, respect, transparency and consensus in favor of their common interests, which are to promote the development and welfare of the population, especially for the most disadvantaged."

Equatorial Guinea hosts a number of UN programs in its territory, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, and the UN Development Programme, which has conducted a national census with funding from the government. Equatorial Guinea has also provided technical assistance to the local United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to improve the effectiveness of its assistance program and has implemented a host of health programs geared toward improving the health of Equatorial Guineans. Basic health indicators such as rates of infant and child mortality have been improving steadily in the country, and the government is widely recognized for its efforts to eradicate malaria.

Equatorial Guinea's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Official Statement, signed by Tomas Mecheba Fernandez, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, is as follows:

Refuting the false information on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare categorically denies having given the figures that have been published in some international media on the seroprevalence of HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea, which, according to this information, was between 30,000 and 60,000 infected people.

These numbers are completely wrong and, at this time, the draft DHS (Demographic and Health Survey) is being finalized, which specifies all health parameters, and which will be published later this year, once it has been reviewed and formally approved by the Government. Consequently, the data given is purely speculative and given with the intention of creating negative propaganda against the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

UNICEF Official Statement, signed by Felipe Esono Krohnert, Acting Official in Charge, is as follows:

1. UNICEF, as an International Organization of the United Nations, is one of the Development Partners contributing, along with the Equatorial Guinean Government and Civil Society, to the country's development, with emphasis on vulnerable populations such as children and women.

2. Within its Cooperation Program for 2012, UNICEF, in coordination with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Promotion of Women, scheduled the organization of the "Workshop on Harmonization and Strengthening of NGOs in the fight against HIV/AIDS". This event was previously announced to the heads of the General Directorate of Multisectoral Coordination against HIV/AIDS for their knowledge and involvement.

3. In the opening ceremony of the Seminar with NGOs, headed by the Presidential Advisor of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Promotion of Women, the Official in Charge of UNICEF spoke, who in short referred to the following:

A. The mandate of UNICEF for Children as an International Body of the United Nations that promotes the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women;

B. The collaboration with the Government to achieve the goals of the National Development Plan Horizon 2020, where one of the priorities is "Health for All".

C. The Role of NGOs to accompany the Country Development Program, and

D. The rules and procedures used by UNICEF in cooperation with its partners.

4. Although the speech by the Official in Charge of UNICEF was very brief on these points, we regret having received information that National and International Press have misrepresented this speech and have attributed to UNICEF the affirmation of the existence of a seroprevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea in numbers ranging from 30,000 to 60,000 persons infected.

5. Within the fidelity and transparency that characterizes the work of UNICEF internationally and particularly in Equatorial Guinea, we wish to dissociate ourselves from such erroneous information published by the press, and to refute it, because UNICEF never alluded to any data statistics on HIV/AIDS in Equatorial Guinea. At the same time, we express our solidarity with the authorities of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on the ethical principle of not disseminating statistical data that have not been officially verified and validated by the sponsoring Ministry of Health of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Finally, we express the availability of this Representation of UNICEF to continue working with the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as it has been doing, in a framework of trust, respect, transparency and consensus in favor of our common interests, which are to promote the development and welfare of the population, especially for the most disadvantaged.

We are confident that this Official Note has served to make clear that UNICEF had nothing to do with this unfortunate misunderstanding, and I take this opportunity to express to Your Excellency my highest consideration.

About Equatorial Guinea

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial) is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country's oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. Equatorial Guinea is now working to serve as a pillar of stability and security in its region of West Central Africa. The country hosted the 2011 Summit of the African Union. For more information, visit http://www.guineaecuatorialpress.com.

SOURCE Republic of Equatorial Guinea



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