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WHO welcomes new initiative to cut the price of AIDS medicines

The World Health Organization (WHO) today welcomed a new initiative to further cut the price of AIDS medicines in developing countries. WHO also underlined the importance of speedy delivery and distribution, as well as effective treatment and care to ensure equitable access to treatment around the world.

Today in New York, the William J. Clinton Foundation announced that it had reached agreement with some manufacturers to cut the price of AIDS medicines in half.

"Providing AIDS treatment to those who most urgently need it in poor countries is the most urgent health challenge the world faces," said the WHO Director-General, Dr LEE Jong-wook. "WHO welcomes this Clinton Foundation initiative and all private and public sector efforts that will both reduce the price of AIDS medicines and ensure their availability to the people who most urgently need them."

WHO and its partners are fully committed to delivering antiretroviral therapy to three million people in developing countries by the end of 2005, the "3 by 5" target. To do this, WHO is leading emergency response teams to assist developing countries in increasing the availability of treatment for people with AIDS, developing simplified treatment guidelines, building an AIDS drugs and diagnostics facility, and ensuring the widespread availability of training for health staff and volunteers.

"Further price reductions are vital for countries to be able to provide treatment to those who need it," said Dr Paulo Teixeira, Director of the HIV/AIDS Department at WHO. "But lower price medicines alone will not deliver treatment. Improving the ability of countries to deliver the medicines, building stronger health systems and training more health workers are also vital if we are to reach the "3 by 5" target.

For more information contact:

Ms Samantha Bolton
Telephone: +41 22 791 1970
Mobile phone: +41 79 239 2366