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G8 One Hundred Percent Talk, Five Percent Finance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

G8 One Hundred Percent Talk, Five Percent Finance


Calgary--June 24, 2002 --- G8 leaders must move from rhetoric to action to ensure access to effective and affordable treatments for infectious diseases in the developing world, says Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical relief organization. MSF says that if hot air will not fund ambitious plans to address access to medicines crisis, now is the time to transform political commitment into hard cash.

Access to essential medicines remains a critical global health issue, with 1/3 of the world's people, and up to 1/2 of the population in parts of Africa, lacking access to essential medicines. Access to existing ARVs for example, remains a dream for the vast majority of people living with HIV outside of G8 and other Western countries. After 20 years, the AIDS epidemic continues to gain momentum: 20 million are dead, 40 million people live with HIV worldwide, and only a fraction has access to treatment.

Public health declarations, such as the WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, and initiatives such as The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), will fail to have an effect on containing the AIDS epidemic if there are not sufficient resources and strong political will to back them up. The UN estimates that for AIDS alone there is need for US$10 billion dollars annually. For 2002 the G8 have allocated a mere US$580 million dollars. That’s a shortfall of almost 96%.

“This is a shameful political failure. The Global Fund has little money and no clear policy directing the purchase of medications to low-cost quality generics over high cost patented medicines - a policy that would mean - for example, in the case of treatments for HIV/AIDS - that three times as many people could be treated with the same amount of public money," says Dr. James Orbinski, Chair of MSF’s Drugs for Neglected Diseases Working Group.

As well as funding, MSF says G8 members should support exceptions to patent rights to allow export of medicines produced under a compulsory license. G8 members must also give full political and technical support to increase and improve local production of essential medicines in developing countries. This means engaging a meaningful strategy to ensure pharmaceutical manufacturing technology transfer to developing countries. Only these measures will ensure an adequate supply of low cost high quality medicines in the developing world.

Implementing these measures will have a meaningful impact on the AIDS epidemic, as well as on access to treatment for malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases in the developing world. The G8 also needs to support research and development for effective and affordable treatments for neglected diseases such as African sleeping sickness and leishmaniaisis – diseases which affect millions. Because of market and government failure research and development for neglected diseases has ground to a standstill.

For more information, please contact Tommi Laulajainen at 416-528-8362.

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