O'Donnell - "AIDS/HIV Drugs Decision is Catalyst for Change"
Liz O'Donnell T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, has called for an urgent international response to the global problem of the supply of retroviral drugs to AIDS/HIV sufferers.
Minister O'Donnell welcomed todays decision by 39 international pharmaceutical companies to withdraw their legal action against the South African Government. The Minister said she hopes the move will now facilitate the supply of much-needed affordable drugs to the South African people. But she also warned that the issue is far from being resolved.
"The decision to drop a case which should never have been launched was sensible. This honourable decision will accelerate efforts to ensure that poor people in South Africa suffering with HIV/AIDS have access to life-saving drugs at affordable prices. I hope it will lead to a more productive dialogue between the companies and Governments in other developing countries who are anxious to obtain key pharmaceuticals for their people.
" The Taoiseach and I will lead the Irish delegation to a Special Session of the United Nations on HIV/AIDS on 25-26 June where all of the key issues relating to the fight against the disease will be discussed. We will use that occasion to press for substantial additional resources to be devoted to halting the spread of the disease among the poorest countries worldwide. We will continue to press for urgent international action to solve the problem of getting anti-retroviral drugs to sufferers of HIV/AIDS.
" The patent agreements under the World Trade Organisation provide ample scope for both Governments and industry to guarantee the supply of life-saving drugs to the poor, in cases where there is a national emergency.
" The fight against HIV/AIDS is now a component of all development programmes supported by the Irish Government and we use every opportunity to highlight the issue at international level. We have been pressing the EU to revitalise its approach to fighting HIV/AIDS and to take a lead role in dealing with the issue of affordability. We have also raised affordability at a UN Security Council debate on HIV/AIDS.
" The statistics are terrifying. The scale of human suffering they represent is tragic. Since the start of the epidemic 21.8 million have died. Decades of development are being reversed. Some 36.1 million people are living with HIV or AIDS world-wide, with 5.3 million newly infected during 2000 alone. Last year 3 million people died of AIDS. "
Notes to Editors:
Ireland contributes to national HIV/AIDS programmes in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana and Zimbabwe. We have pledged IR£2.5 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. We will commit IR£3.25 million to UNAIDS over the next three years. Top