Leaders call for new dialogue on AIDS
9 June 2008
United Nations, 9 June 2008: The Presidents of Togo and Burkina Faso, as well the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, who are in New York to participate in the United Nations high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS, have stressed the urgency of redoubling national and global efforts to deliver on the promise of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment.
In a special pre-meeting event on “Universal Access to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment: In Search of Sustainable Solutions,” participants representing governments, international organisations, civil society and the pharmaceutical industry concurred on the need for “a new dialogue” among all actors to ensure that every individual had access to HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support.
“The question of cost and complexity of treatment calls for dialogue between the pharmaceutical industry, governments, people living with HIV/AIDS and donor partners,” said the President of Togo, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, observing that the need for treatment was continuing to grow.
He added that reinforcement of South-South cooperation with countries like India, China, Brazil and Thailand, as well as North-South partnership, especially in the area of technology transfer, were essential to achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS services.
The President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, said that due to a committed national leadership, an HIV/AIDS policy that takes into account sociological and cultural factors as well as financial and technical support from partners, Burkina Faso had made significant progress towards universal access to HIV/AIDS services.
He observed that the number of people receiving treatments had increased from around 1500 in 2003 to about 17,000 in 2007 while the number of health teams providing HIV/AIDS treatment and care had doubled from about 200 to 400 in the last two years.
He called for increased financial and technical support to maintain the progress. “We also need to address the food crisis and the rising oil prices to ensure that they do not undermine progress,” he said.
The Brazilian Minister of Women’s Affairs, Nilcea Freire, regretted that women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS hasn’t reduced that much over the last few years, which made the issue of prevention all the more important.
“We need to have immediately means of prevention that women can use,” she emphasized.
Her concern was echoed by Ms. Rolake Odetoyinbo of Positive Action for Treatment Access of Nigeria representing people living with HIV/AIDS. She called for a partnership that focuses on the most vulnerable groups without any discrimination.
Concluding the discussions, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Denzil L. Douglas, said that much remained to be done to remove barriers to universal access, including pricing, tariffs, regulatory policy and research.
“Until addressed, these obstacles will continue to impact on broader development… The availability of affordable commodities is critical to the achievement of major development efforts in time,” he said.
The pre-conference event was organized by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS) and the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA).
Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, the Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, urged countries to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB in HIV-positive individuals and diagnosis of HIV-infection in those with TB.
“Overcoming the HIV epidemic requires a sustained, long-term response. The sustainability of the response must become central to all HIV-related planning and implementation, including on universal access to affordable medicines,” he said.
Highlighting the scale of the challenge facing the international community in combating HIV/AIDS, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director said that 10 million people would need treatment by 2010, compared to three million on treatment today. Treatment for the 10 million people would require about 8 billion dollars a year.
“It is a great challenge to ensure that this will be affordable and sustainable,” he said.
« Return to news archives