On the eve of World AIDS Day, ''Europe! Hands Off Our Medicine!'' is a chant being heard in the streets from Bangkok to Brussels and New Delhi to Nairobi as thousands mobilize to help protect access to affordable medicines.
The two biggest challenges in treating millions of HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries are shrinking funds from international donors for AIDS treatment and rising drug prices because of policies being pushed by rich countries to protect their own pharmaceutical industries, stated MSF (Medecins Sans Frontiers) an international medical and humanitarian aid organization, in a press statement issued on Tuesday.
In October 2010, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) had requested donors to meet the goal of $20 billion over three years (2011 2013) to provide funds to scale up programs. But only about $11.7 billion were contributed, way below the bare minimum of $13 billion needed just to keep existing programs running. Till date, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and the UK have not contributed, pointed out MSF, adding that Belgium and the UK were expected to pledge soon.
MSF has urged people to be part of the campaign against the free trade agreements that the European Union is pushing on countries like India which could damage the flow of affordable medicines to those in greatest need. ''Whether treating AIDS or tuberculosis, malaria or other infectious diseases, we cannot do our job without these affordable treatments. India plays a critical role in supplying the developing world with affordable quality generic medicines, and has been called the pharmacy of the developing world,'' said the MSF statement.
MSF purchases more than 80% of the AIDS medicines it uses to treat 160,000 people with HIV/AIDS from producers in India.