VI. Leadership challenges
Poverty, armed conflict and HIV/AIDS
not only destroy children's lives, they also wreak havoc on nations.
Kong, one of the world's 10.4 million children
orphaned by AIDS, now lives with his aunt in Chiang Rai
Children suffer the most as poverty breeds injustice, exploitation,
illiteracy and desperation. While some nations are brought to
their knees by devastating poverty, an enlightened leadership
understands that the most powerful weapon against national indigence
is caring for children by providing early childhood care,
child protective services, education and health care.
Education, equality and strong health care are not single-issue
solutions. They generate multiple dividends. Investing in children's
well-being, for example, can reduce armed conflict as healthy
children armed with education, not guns, can lead the world towards
While nations struggle with poverty and conflict, no continent
is spared the HIV/AIDS epidemic one of the cruellest political
and social problems in the world. Like other diseases, AIDS thrives
in conditions of poverty, malnutrition, unsafe water and inadequate
sanitation. This plague is destroying families, communities and
nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Women and girls are
the fastest-growing group of new HIV infections.
Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit. Here, life expectancy is plummeting.
AIDS orphans overwhelm family networks, social services and health
care institutions. Country after country watches as their futures
UN Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan speaks of the AIDS epidemic
as a "crisis of governance and a crisis of leadership."
He has proposed a multi-billion Global AIDS and Health Fund, the
money coming from donor and developing countries as well as the
private sector. Responses to the Secretary-General's call have
come from governments, the private sector and the foundation world
including $1 million from Winterthur Insurance, a Credit Suisse
Group company and $100 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, the largest private donor to date.
"Leadership at the global as well as the country
level," says the Secretary-General, "is the single most
important factor in reversing the epidemic."
For additional information on topics mentioned in the text, click
on the links below:
Global AIDS and Health Fund
The Bill & Melinda
For an extensive overview of the issues affecting children, see
The State of the World's Children, 2000