by Justus Waimiri in Abuja, Nigeria
[ACNS source: Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa] The Most Revd Peter Akinola, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, today opened a Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) national workshop on HIV/AIDS strategic planning and policy development in Abuja, Nigeria.
Archbishop Akinola said the church had a critical role to play in HIV prevention and care for those affected by AIDS. However, the church can only go so far and called for a radical change in moral behaviour as the only way to fully eradicate HIV/AIDS.
"Brothers and sisters, if we do what God says in His word - turn from our wicked ways - we can change the tide around HIV/AIDS and stop new infections," he told the participants who are drawn from the 81 dioceses of the Church of Nigeria.
Archbishop Akinola, who is also the chairman of Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), said the continent of Africa was most affected by the pandemic and needed to move in the same direction.
He challenged participants to come up with clear policies and actions that will guide the church in addressing HIV/AIDS and promised that the national office would continue to actively support AIDS initiatives throughout the 17 million member church.
On collaboration, the primate said the church cannot afford to plan and implement interventions without involving other denominations, the government, non-governmental organisations and agencies that are already involved in the work.
"Our aim must not be to go solo by putting undue pressure on scanty resources trying to do what others can do very well," he said.
The four-day meeting is sponsored by a grant from the Anglican Consultative Council and the Compass Rose Society. Action Aid, Christian Aid and Policy Project have also supported the meeting and are participating at the consultations.
Addressing the workshop on the response of the Anglican Communion in Africa on AIDS, CAPA HIV/AIDS Co-ordinator, Mrs Nema Aluku, said Provinces in Africa were already sharing and replicating best practices.
She said five of the 12 African Provinces have already conducted strategic planning and were implementing various activities that are touching their communities. These include Kenya, Tanzania, Southern Africa, Indian Ocean and Uganda. Nigeria, Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, West and Central Africa and the Diocese of Egypt are at various stages of planning and implementation.