New York, 27 June 2001 — The international medical aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today reacted with optimism to the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS submitted to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS, which, if enacted by countries, could significantly improve access to AIDS treatment and prevention in the developing world. MSF urged wealthy countries, particularly the G8, to enable developing countries to put the declaration into action by providing the necessary funds.
"The declaration puts treatment firmly on the map," said Anne-Valerie Kaninda, MD, medical advisor of MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. "It confirms what we are seeing in our field work: that there can be no choice between prevention and treatment, they are mutually reinforcing. However, without international financial support, the declaration will remain empty words. And, in order for developing countries to treat the highest number of HIV-infected people, more must be dcone to ensure that they can purchase medicines and medical technologies at the lowest prices available globally."
The declaration offers clear recognition that the high cost of drugs, particularly antiretrovirals, and of related technologies, is a problem that must be addressed at all levels through the enhancement of local manufacturing capacity, differential pricing, transfer of relevant technologies, and generic competition. The draft resolution echoes the results of a TRIPS Council meeting that took place last week at the World Trade Organization in Geneva where developing countries insisted that intellectual property rights should not stand in the way of access to essential medicines, and that countries should feel secure in using legal safeguards to ensure this.
"We hope that the declaration will translate into urgent action: adequate funds must be committed and ambitious programs must be implemented so that lives can be saved," stated Dr. Kaninda.