Minister of State Kitt stresses Ireland's strong support for the global fight against HIV/AIDS
Mr. Tom Kitt T.D., Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights at the Department of Foreign Affairs, expressed concern about the continuing rise in the numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS.
UNAIDS, the UN body charged with coordinating the global fight against the disease, has just published the latest statistics on the global epidemic which show that HIV/AIDS continues to expand in every region of the world. In 2003, over five million people became newly infected with HIV - more than in any previous year.
Minister of State Kitt said:
“I am greatly concerned about the continuing increase in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS as shown in the latest statistics published by UNAIDS this morning.
These latest statistics, which are based on a revised and more accurate reporting system, show that the epidemic is continuing to grow in all regions.While sub Saharan Africa continues to bear the brunt of the disease, with over 25 million infected people, the disease is also expanding rapidly in Asia and Eastern Europe.
These latest statistics underline the fact that the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS is one of the central challenges of our time. The spread of the disease has health, development, security and economic implications which require a concerted global response.
Development Cooperation Ireland, the Government’s official programme of development assistance, has long recognised that the spread of HIV/AIDS is a fundamental threat to development.
During the Irish EU Presidency we worked closely with UNAIDS at the Dublin Ministerial conference “Breaking the Barriers; the fight against HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia” to agree the Dublin Declaration which provides the framework for the fight against the disease in Europe and Central Asia in the coming years. The Declaration was endorsed by the June European Council and will be followed up at a forthcoming meeting of relevant countries and UNAIDS and the European Commission in Latvia.
Ireland also proposed that the EU- US Summit in Dromoland in June should issue a Declaration on the fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. A key element in the EU-US Declaration was the endorsement of the so-called “three ones” (one national action plan, one national AIDS authority, one monitoring and evaluation system) which is crucial for the future effective fight against the disease. UNAIDS has highlighted the need for improved coordination to end duplication as a key element in strengthening the global response to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Development Cooperation Ireland is now spending over €40m per year in the fight against AIDS. We are a close partner of UNAIDS; we contribute €10m per year to the Global Fund to fight AIDS Malaria and TB; we have bilateral AIDS programmes in our six countries in sub Saharan Africa; we fund Irish and other NGOs and missionaries to enable them to contribute to the fight against the disease; and we continue to advocate the need to end stigma, discrimination and to promote prevention programmes. We are also helping to fund research into an AIDS vaccine and into other technologies to be used to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Early next week I will attend the 15th Global AIDS Conference in Bangkok where I will chair a number of meetings and meet with Professor Richard Feachem, the Director of the Global Fund. These statistics from UNAIDS provide a disturbing backdrop to the discussions at the Conference. I am determined that Development Cooperation Ireland will continue to play a strong leadership role in the struggle against this terrible disease. We will continue to devote a high level of our resources to helping the world’s poorest countries cope with the impact of the epidemic and we will continue to advocate globally for more funding, more coordination between donors and accelerated research into an AIDS vaccine.” Top