Speech |

WHA 64: MSF Intervention on WHO Draft HIV/AIDS Strategy 2011-2015

WHO Draft HIV/AIDS Strategy 2011-2015
64th World Health Assembly
Agenda item 13.6
Intervention by Katy Athersuch, Médecins Sans Frontières

Chairman, Director General, Honourable delegates, Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes the ambitious goals and strategies in the draft HIV/AIDS strategy 2011–2015.  

WHO showed strong leadership in issuing treatment guidelines in 2010 that recommend earlier treatment with better drugs.

A recent MSF study shows that many countries have changed their treatment protocols to follow these recommendations. This progress is encouraging, but it remains fragile: several countries are unable to fully implement improved treatment protocols because of funding constraints. This means keeping people on inferior drugs, or treating people only once their immune systems are weak.  

Further scale-up of treatment is needed to save lives, reduce illness, and diminish the risk of HIV transmission. Latest scientific evidence shows how early treatment can reduce the spread of the virus, by lowering the level of virus in people’s blood sooner. The conclusive results of the recent NIH trial show how treatment must be used as a vital prevention tool and as an essential component of a prevention strategy. Treatment initiation at CD4 350 is the clinical minimum that should be achieved everywhere.

Over six million people living with HIV in developing countries are now on ARV treatment. But another 10 million people are in urgent need of antiretroviral treatment now.

At the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS in June, countries will be committing to the blueprint for the next decade of the global AIDS response. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has asked them to support a treatment target of at least 13 million people on treatment by 2015, however some governments refuse to support a target, and the target in the latest draft declaration remains blank. We call for a treatment target of 15 million. An ambitious treatment target is important if a credible global response is to be mounted to break the back of the epidemic.

Member States must implement policies that will enable access to treatment to be maintained and scaled up. Ever greater protection and enforcement of intellectual property in developing countries significantly limits the availability of affordable medicines, particularly for newer generations of treatments. TRIPS flexibilities must be used and ‘TRIPS plus’ policies rejected to ensure generic competition. Other mechanisms to reduce the price of patented medicines should be supported, like the Medicines Patent Pool. We call on companies to enter into negotiations with the Pool.