Primate’s fund targets AIDS in strategic plan

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has made HIV and AIDS a prime focus of its strategic plan.

The organization made the decision at a recent board meeting at a conference centre north of Toronto from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3.

“What we’ve said is this needs to be a high priority,” said Charlotte Maxwell, the primate’s fund’s development program co-ordinator for east and southern Africa.

The immediate priority area for the organization’s HIV/AIDS work will be Africa, where infection and mortality rates are the most acute, but the focus will eventually be global said Ms. Maxwell, because the problem is growing in parts of Asia and South America. 

In the short term, PWRDF will use only existing resources to support its partners who are engaged in work on HIV/AIDS, like the health department of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.

“This will require ongoing support,” said Ms. Maxwell. “This is not a short-term emergency.”

In the longer term, HIV/AIDS work will be fully incorporated into PWRDF’s strategic plan and will take on a more pronounced focus with elements of fundraising, programming with partners and education and advocacy in Canada. The organization will also put more effort into HIV/AIDS policy work, including urging more government support in Canada for the United Nations Global AIDS Fund.

The education component, which already includes items like a liturgy for World AIDS Day (Dec. 1, 2002), will be further developed.

The board was clear that PWRDF cannot deal with HIV/AIDS without focusing on poverty and development issues, said Ms. Maxwell.

“You can’t let the development work go,” she said. “In sub-Saharan Africa, you can’t do development work without talking about HIV/AIDS.”

That sentiment is reflected in a statement adopted at the November board meeting. It reads, in part:

“There are cause and effect links between poverty and health, between structural adjustment programs and weakened health infrastructure, therefore between economic justice and HIV/AIDS. … The impact of HIV/AIDS is incalculable on government, the civil service, health and education and other social services, the professional class, the productive sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing in every country of sub-Saharan Africa.”

As an example, Ms. Maxwell cites a famine, which is anticipated and feared for much of Africa; it is expected to be worse than previous famines because of the prevalence of AIDS. Many African countries are losing their most productive populations – mainly young adults – to the disease. Children are also dying and women, who would otherwise be able to plant crops after a drought, are sick or caring for the sick.

The board’s decision to expand PWRDF’s HIV/AIDS work comes in the wake of drastic increases in recent years in numbers affected by the disease. The United Nations estimates 5,500 AIDS deaths in Africa every day.

“The board sensed the emergency about this,” said Ms. Maxwell, who retires Nov. 30. “The estimates of prevalence of HIV/AIDS were dramatically underestimated in the 1990s. It is only in the last three years that the full realization of the exponential growth of HIV/AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa became apparent. Our partners’ priority for it also increased over the last few years.”

PWRDF, once the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm, incorporated in 2000.

For a full listing of HIV/AIDS programs supported by PWRDF, contact [email protected]


Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .