Former President Jerry John Rawlings on Monday said the fight against malaria and AIDS demands "social responsibility and the working together of policing and judicial mechanisms."">
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General News of Monday, 5 February 2001

Source: GNA

Fight against AIDS, malaria is social responsibility - Rawlings

Former President Jerry John Rawlings on Monday said the fight against malaria and AIDS demands "social responsibility and the working together of policing and judicial mechanisms."

He said the ongoing scourge of the two killer diseases is the result of society's irresponsibility to keep itself healthy.

Ex-President Rawlings said this when Mrs Sharon Capeling-Alakija, visiting UN Volunteer (UNV) Executive Co-ordinator, called on him to discuss his appointment as one of three UN eminent personalities on voluntarism.

The other two personalities are former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf and the founder of Body Shop, Ms Anita Roddick.

The title is conferred on persons who have distinguished themselves in volunteering for the welfare of mankind.

"Even though the advanced countries are supporting the fight against these diseases, it is time for us to wake up to our responsibilities because as the saying goes, 'God helps those who help themselves,'" Flt. Lt. Rawlings (RTD) said.

He expressed regret that even though information technology has brought the world closer together, it could not address the socio-economic imbalance among countries.

"While malaria is absent and AIDS cases are declining in advanced countries, AIDS infections are increasing and people cannot afford malaria treatment in third world countries."

Flt. Lt. Rawlings said the "immense gap" between the third world and the developed world would have been wider but for the contributions of UN volunteers.

"I have a great deal of respect for them. I thank them," he said, adding, "while I believe it is a Herculean role, I would play my part to supplement the efforts of those already in the field."

He said as human problems are eternal, the spirit of voluntarism should be sustained and advised President John Kufuor's government to recognise and encourage it.

"It is one way of enabling the people to free themselves from the pains of survival and the machinery of government which is already stretched."

Mrs Capeling-Alakija praised Ghana's long history with the UNV, saying the country was one of the first to supply volunteers to the UN.

She said in view of the international recognition of Ex-President Rawlings' voluntarism, Mr Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, invited him to help raise the profile of the UNV.