19 May 2000
HEALTH MINISTERS ENCOURAGE FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS ON ACCESS TO HIV/AIDS TREATMENT FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
The Ministers of Health meeting in Geneva for the fifty-third World Health Assembly (WHA) have launched an appeal for further negotiations between UNAIDS and the pharmaceutical industry to increase access of developing countries to HIV/AIDS treatment at affordable cost.
The appeal was made during examination of the report on HIV/AIDS by World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, and of WHO Executive Board resolution EB105.R17, "HIV/AIDS: confronting the epidemic".
A committee of the WHA today recommended that the resolution, as amended, be adopted by the WHA. The WHA is due to decide on its adoption on 20 May. If adopted, the resolution will enjoin WHO Member States to increase their response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The resolution commits them to:
Countries must also undertake the following activities:
The resolution requests the Director-General of WHO to continue strengthening the involvement of the Organization in HIV/AIDS control, and to develop a global health-sector strategy for responding to the epidemics of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, as part of the United Nations system's strategic plan for HIV/AIDS for 2001-2005.
The resolution also commits the Director-General to ensuring that WHO, together with the secretariat of UNAIDS and the other cosponsoring agencies, pursue a dynamic dialogue with the pharmaceutical industry.
At the end of 1999 there were 33.6 million people throughout the world living with HIV/AIDS, two-thirds of them in the African region. The Director-General's report states that, in view of the scale of the problem in that part of the world, UNAIDS and its cosponsoring agencies at the end of last year set up an International Partnership against AIDS in Africa.
The report points out that, whereas Africa is now the worst affected region, HIV infection is spreading quickly in Asia, especially South and South-East Asia, where six million people are affected, especially young people who inject drugs. In the Americas, in spite of a decline in mortality due to AIDS, the rate of infection is increasing in minority and underprivileged populations.
Between the end of 1997 and the end of 1999 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS doubled in the newly independent States of Eastern Europe, which is ripe for an increase in incidence of HIV/AIDS, with dangerous injection practices by drug users and a substantial rise in the incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases.
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