Joint communiqué from Secretary-General and seven leading research-based pharmaceutical companies on access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment



4 October 2001

Following is the text of a joint communiqué issued today in New York by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and seven pharmaceutical companies:

1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, met today with the CEOs and senior executives of seven of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical companies (Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Merck and Co Inc, and Pfizer) and senior officials of WHO and UNAIDS, to take stock of progress in expanding access to HIV treatment and care in developing countries. The meeting followed on an earlier meeting held in Amsterdam in April of this year.

2. Today's meeting reviewed the extent to which people of least developed countries, particularly countries of sub-Saharan Africa, are able to access the HIV care that they need, and ways to increase this access rapidly.

3. Since the CEOs last met with the Secretary-General, the companies, acting individually, have taken significant steps to make HIV/AIDS-related drugs more affordable and available for developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. They have intensified their partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private employers, local communities and health-care practitioners.

4. The Secretary-General, CEOs and United Nations officials agreed that prices of medicines and diagnostics are an important component of efforts to increase access to care, but -- on their own -- reduced prices are not sufficient to catalyse the scaling up that is needed. Additional resources are required, together with the political will and skills to spend them effectively. This means paying careful attention to the experiences of individuals and groups who have shown that they are making a difference to the lives of people at risk of, or affected by, HIV/AIDS. It also means reporting -- widely -- on what they have achieved, and synthesizing their experiences in a way that helps heads of State, governments and community groups intensify their response to the HIV-related needs of populations.

5. Participants in the meeting discussed the challenges they face in detail. They concluded that they will continue, in succeeding months, to work together on the practical realities of scaling up responses to HIV/AIDS at community level. They see the need to address HIV/AIDS in a comprehensive manner with a package of prevention, diagnosis and care. They recognize that effective care calls for reliable and accessible diagnosis, and without the potential for care, increasing the impact of prevention is extremely difficult.

6. With regard to care for people with HIV, the focus will involve defining the elements of the package concerned with care (including, but not limited to, anti-retroviral therapy), then identifying and accrediting those groups who can provide this care; offering support to these accredited providers so that they make care available to people who need it and establishing means to subsidize poor people's access to this care in ways that use scarce resources as efficiently as possible.

7. Participants agreed to join forces with other partners in the fight against HIV infection and AIDS -- employers (and their workforces), NGOs, academics, faith-based groups and missions. They will use their experience to help governments respond effectively to the needs of all. They agreed that they would work together to make the Global AIDS and Health Fund a success. They will communicate and report their results widely.

8. Summing up, J-P Garnier, on behalf of the companies, said "we will be working together to put our fingers on the triggers for efficacy". The Secretary-General endorsed the collective commitment to make a difference, responding to the enormous challenge of curbing the AIDS epidemic and the resulting devastation to millions of the world's poorest people.

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