Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

WHO Declares Failure to Deliver AIDS Medicines a Global Health Emergency

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

WHO Declares Failure to Deliver AIDS Medicines a Global Health Emergency

Article excerpt

At a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 22 September, WHO declared the failure to expand access to antiretrovirals in the developing world a global health emergency. The announcement was made together with UNAIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria.

Only 5% of the six million people requiring antiretrovirals in the developing world are receiving them. In sub-Saharan Africa, which bears most of the global HIV/AIDS burden, only 50 000 people of the 4.1 million who need treatment actually have access to it. This despite the availability of treatment for a dollar a day or less.

The global target is to provide antiretroviral medicines to three million people by the end of 2005. However, using existing programmes, fewer than one million people who need treatment will receive it by the close of 2005. Achieving the target, otherwise known as "3 by 5," needs an immediate emergency response but also a change in long-term thinking. "To deliver antiretroviral treatment to the millions who need it, we must change the way we think and change the way we act," said Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General of WHO.

WHO, together with UNAIDS and other partners, is leading the response to the global health emergency. It is urging governments, donors, other international and nongovernmental organizations, people living with HIV/AIDS, and industry to work together in closing the gap between patient and treatment. Dr Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director, highlighted the importance of gaining strong commitment from the governments of those countries most affected. …

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