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Waba unicef colloquium on hiv and Infant Feeding Michael Latham: Introduction to Colloquium


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WABA - UNICEF Colloquium on HIV and Infant Feeding

Michael Latham: Introduction to Colloquium


Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome. My name is Michael Latham. I'm a professor of International Nutrition at Cornell University. I'm honored to chair this session on HIV and Infant Feeding. I was a founding member of WABA, and still am involved, and have also worked with UNICEF. It is thus very nice for me to see this joint UNICEF-WABA Colloquium.
When organizing this, we struggled a bit with the name. A "colloquium" means a group of people getting together to have dialogue and discussion. I think maybe there is a better ki-swahili word: Baraza. This means the bringing of people in a village or community together to discuss problems about which there may be differing views. But in a Baraza, even though they have differing views, the people almost always come out with a consensus, and usually a consensus without the need to have a vote of those who are pro, and those who are con. So, let's say welcome to this Baraza on Infant feeding and HIV. I know that we're going to have different viewpoints, but I honestly believe that the grounds that we share are much larger than the grounds upon which we have disagreements. I do think that on many issues we can reach consensus. In the end, we're all interested in the best health and welfare of children, of mothers and of families all over the world. Arusha, located in Africa, is a very appropriate place for this kind of meeting.
Another thing that the organizers struggled with is how to fit all of this into only two days. As you will see from the programme, we have decided to have the morning consist mainly of plenary and presentations, with not a lot of time (unfortunately) for discussion. We knew that there would be a large and strong group of people attending this meeting, all of whom would like to have a voice. However, with about 170, people in one room, it would be difficult to hear everybody's voice. We therefore decided to break into five working groups so that everybody can have a voice. Hopefully it will provide an opportunity for all of you to express your views about the particular issues at hand.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to both WABA and UNICEF for organizing this meeting. I want to pay particular tribute to Mark Stirling, from UNICEF, who somewhat spear headed this. I'm very disappointed that he is unable to be here today. Ted Greiner and I met with Mark about a year ago, and the idea of this Colloquium was born, and Mark Stirling really went forward with it. There are many people at UNICEF who have been extremely supportive: Miriam Labbok, the people in WABA, not only the Steering Committee, but also Susan Siew and Sarah Amin. Then, UNICEF people in Nairobi, Urban Jonsson and Olivia Yambi, in Dar Es Salaam, Bjorn Ljungquist and Meera Shekar, at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Bibi Giyose and Mofota Shomari, and many others whom I've forgotten to mention. In the last six weeks it really has been Arjan De Wagt and Ted Greiner, who have done a huge amount of the work and really moved us forward.
We will now move into the main part of the programme, and I would now like to ask Connie Osborne with UNAIDS in Geneva to give the opening speech.


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