IAC concludes without a breakthrough: Officials dodge the 2010 goal of universal access, Oxfam says

“AIDS is an emergency. There is no time to waste.”
Annie Lennox
Singer, Oxfam Amabassador
Published: 8 August 2008

(Mexico City) The International AIDS Conference concluded today without a clear plan or any new impetus to reach the 2010 target of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, said international agency Oxfam.

“To say we are disappointed is an understatement. Has the AIDS Conference become just another expensive gab-fest?” asked Robert Fox of Oxfam International. “Rather than rally the troops, officials from government and UN agencies talked about 2015 as being good enough and seemed happy to let the 2010 goal slide. How many will suffer and die if that happens?”

In 2005, the G8 set the goal of achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS services by 2010, which was endorsed and expanded by African leaders to cover malaria and tuberculosis the following year. Yet AIDS 2008 ended without a plan to achieve it.

Annie Lennox, singer and Oxfam global ambassador, said: “AIDS is an emergency. There is no time to waste. Millions of the world’s most vulnerable people are counting on governments to make good on the promise for 2010.”

“In Vienna two years from now, the world will ask: ‘What have you done to end this calamity?’” Lennox implored. “How many people will you have placed on treatment? How many female condoms will you have distributed? How many health workers will you have trained?”

“That we have achieved progress in expanding treatment and prevention is welcome news,” Fox said. “But the air of complacency from officials is profoundly disturbing. The message from people on the front lines of this pandemic stands in sharp contrast. They know that funding is inadequate, health systems are weak, and medicines are far too expensive. And the reason is lack of political will among donors, developing country governments and the big pharmaceutical companies.”

Oxfam health adviser Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni said: “Officials tried to gloss over the real problems of getting AIDS-specific funding to strengthen health systems, which was the major policy outcome in Toronto two years ago. Universal access must mean access to comprehensive health services for all.”