22 November 2001

Joint Press Release by NGOs from Belgium, Burundi, France, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, UK, and US.

Sharonann Lynch (Brussels mobile): 0474 939319
Paul Davis (U.S. mobile) +1 215 833 4102
Gaelle Krikorian + 33 6 09 17 70 55

Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria:
Bureaucrats Betray People with AIDS in Poor Countries

AIDS activists from around the world demand the Global Fund subsidize cheap AIDS Drugs

(Brussels) International AIDS activists and medical organizations confront the opening day of meetings of the Board for the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in Brussels. Activists are concerned by the clear lack of commitment among Global Fund decision makers to financing AIDS treatment in poor countries.

Set to launch on December 15, 2001 the Global Fund is currently poised to finance treatment only for diseases cheaper to treat than HIV, despite public health evidence that AIDS treatment is cost effective and is a key aspect of an effective response to the AIDS pandemic. The activists insist that access to AIDS treatment is a fundamental human right that the Global Fund must help fulfill, as 30 million people with HIV are currently living with no access to affordable medication.

Activists from 10 countries have gathered in Brussels to meet with Global Fund Board members to demand funding for AIDS drugs, including antiretrovirals. The activists report that Global Fund decision-makers have already made clear that funding HIV treatment in poor countries will not be a priority for the Fund, despite the desperate worldwide need for AIDS drugs, and the tremendous gap in access to AIDS treatment that spurred the creation of the Global Fund by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in April, 2001.

"The Global AIDS TB and Malaria Fund is turning into a slow, under-funded bureaucracy that will not be able to produce results. 27,000 people will die today because they lack access to affordable treatment for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria," said Zackie Achmat of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa.

"What we're seeing here is a betrayal of what the Fund was invented for in the first place. Rich countries cannot be allowed to simply sentence 30 million people with HIV to death because they prefer to focus on cheaper diseases," said Evan Ruderman of the Health GAP Coalition. "There is no reason for the Fund to wait to deliver vital medicines and start turning the tide while global comprehensive plans guidelines are developed over the next year."

The proposals being debated by the Global Fund board members fail to address proposals for treatment programs, or for the procurement or distribution of medicines. A concrete proposal that NGOs are making is for the Fund to start saving lives now, by putting vital HIV drugs into the hands of qualified field organizations through procurement and delivery systems already housed within UN agencies.

"Hospitals, clinics and workplaces in the field can immediately scale up effective treatment and care if they are given the HIV/AIDS drugs they can not afford," said Joseph Essombo, an AIDS doctor with the Ivory Coast Bouake Health Network.

"The fund must prioritize programs that quickly put critical medicines into the hands of the suffering," said Pearl Nwashili of Stop AIDS in Nigeria. "But the donor countries seem perfectly content that the Global Fund will not finance programs to start saving lives now, when 10,000 people with AIDS die each day."

The Doha declaration on Public Health affirms the rights of poor countries to bypass patents and purchase generic HIV medicines. "Even the World Trade Organization recognizes that economics can not dictate double standards on world health" said Gaelle Krikrian of ACT UP Paris. "The experience of doctors in the field shows that HIV treatment is absolutely feasible in poor countries, and, since the advent of generic competition, entirely affordable".

The international group of NGOs will meet with Global Fund board members this week to demand:

Oxfam International
Health GAP Coalition
ACT UP New York
ACT UP Philadelphia
ACT UP Paris,
Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
WOFAK (Kenya)
People's Health Coalition (South Korea)
Stop AIDS (Nigeria)
Renaissance Sate Bouake (Cote D'Ivore)
Pharmacist's Association for Healthy Society (PAHS)
Intellectual Property Left (IPLeft)
People's Solidarity for Social Progress
Team of Drug Policy, Korean Association of Physician for Humanism
People's Health Coalition

CPT Home IP and Healthcare CPT Page on Global Fund