Lack of Access to HIV/AIDS Care One of World’s ‘Greatest Public Health Crises,’ Opinion Piece Says
A lack of access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care is one of the "greatest public health crises" in the world today, but the problem could be addressed with "substantial investment" from governments, civil society, multilateral donors, the private sector and people living with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Jong-Wook Lee, director general of the World Health Organization, and Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, write in a Washington Post opinion piece. To this end, the U.N. General Assembly, WHO and UNAIDS on Monday are scheduled to announce plans to work with these "key partners" to meet a WHO goal of providing antiretroviral treatment to three million people by 2005, Lee and Piot write. In addition, WHO and UNAIDS will invite groups, including nongovernmental organizations, to send "emergency response teams" to support governments in the implementation of simple and effective systems to improve access to antiretroviral drugs, according to Lee and Piot. WHO and UNAIDS will also increase HIV training for health care workers and establish a centralized facility through which medications and patient monitoring technology can be purchased and drug access and resistance can be monitored, Lee and Piot write. Although the investment in solving the AIDS treatment crisis will be "large, the benefits are almost incalculable," Lee and Piot say, adding that the framework put in place to provide AIDS care could "also advance care for tuberculosis, malaria and the other great killers that plague the developing world." Lee and Piot conclude that WHO and UNAIDS have "pledged to work with all our partners" to provide "lifesaving medicines to those in need, building a better public health system in the process" (Lee/Piot, Washington Post, 9/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.