50,000 die during International AIDS Conference 2006 – Time for political leaders to deliver

Published: 21 August 2006

Toronto – Political leaders north and south are the missing quotient to stem the tide of the AIDS pandemic, said international agency Oxfam today, as the 2006 International AIDS Conference wound down. Over the course of this conference, more than 50,000 people died from AIDS-related causes and another 80,000 became infected, the agency said.

“This unique gathering has demonstrated that communities across the world are delivering prevention, care and treatment in innovative and exciting ways. And it has shown that scientific research is delivering consistent progress,” said Oxfam Policy Advisor Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni. “But, with a few notable exceptions, neither governments nor donors are putting their full weight behind scaling up the response, rebuilding health systems, and removing barriers to access to medicines.”

Oxfam also criticized pharmaceutical companies for dragging their feet on decreasing prices of second-line treatment, while at the same time blocking generic competition – the surest mechanism of decreasing the price of medicines.

“Let us not forget the urgency of the matter. Since the conference began 50,000 people have died of AIDS-related causes,” Kamal-Yanni said, “and another 80,000 have become infected.”Oxfam urged political leaders, north and south, to act now on the priorities identified this week. In particular Oxfam called for:

  • massive investment in health systems, especially to increase the quantity and quality of health workers

  • policy changes to encourage generic competition and lower the cost of medicine

  • leadership to end stigma and fulfil the rights of women and marginalized people to participation and services, and

  • predictable, sustainable funding for prevention, treatment and care, especially via fully funding the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.

“It is high time the politicians caught up with the rest of us,” said Mark Fried, Oxfam spokesperson. “The impressive efforts of citizens and science can only go so far when faced with such a vast catastrophe. Rich country leaders must pay their fair share to the Global Fund, and refrain from ideologically-inspired restrictions on what works. And developing-country leaders must dedicate all the political weight and resources needed to make the promise of universal access a reality.”

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Mark Fried on +1 613-850-9723