WHO Director General Calls for Wealthy Nations To Donate More to ‘Three-by-Five’ Initiative To Fight HIV/AIDSWorld Health Organization Director-General Jong-Wook Lee in Brazil on Sunday called for wealthy nations to donate more funds to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, Reuters reports. Lee said that rich countries, including Japan, Britain and the Scandinavian nations, should offer more funding to the WHO's anti-AIDS initiative, which aims to treat three million people with antiretroviral drugs by 2005, according to Reuters (Reuters, 12/7). Lee on Sept. 22 during a U.N. General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS in New York City announced WHO's commitment to the "three-by-five" plan and declared the lack of access to antiretroviral drugs a global health emergency. WHO's $5.5 billion plan calls for training 100,000 health care workers, refocusing 10,000 clinics in developing countries to treat HIV/AIDS and using some common antiretroviral drug combinations; however, the plan does not provide or subsidize the drugs. Thus far, 20 countries have sought WHO assistance in establishing HIV/AIDS treatment programs, and WHO estimates that 20 more will ask for help by June 2004. WHO has already sent consultation teams to Kenya, Burkina Faso, Malawi and Zambia (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/1). Lee said, "The trend is more money is becoming available, we have to put in more requests and suggestions and pressure to the countries," adding that "very urgent action and not the business-as-usual approach" is needed (Reuters, 12/7).
Brazil's Treatment Model
WHO on Sunday also said that it plans to use Brazil's "controversial" HIV/AIDS treatment program as a "model" for the three-by-five initiative, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/7). Brazil's National STD/AIDS Programme, which is considered to be one of the most progressive in the world, manufactures generic versions of antiretrovirals, ignoring patents issued before 1997 when Brazil signed an intellectual property law in order to join the World Trade Organization (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/19). Brazil is considering producing antiretrovirals that WHO plans to use as part of the three-by-five initiative and is also weighing building a Brazilian drug manufacturing plant in Mozambique that could "serve the needs of nearby countries," Reuters reports. Lee said that Brazil's "experience would be crucial" in helping the organization determine its drug licensing and pricing policies, and in diagnosis, patient selection and regimen adherence, according to Reuters. Brazilian Health Minister Humberto Costa said, "We're not interested in making medicine to make money but to produce them at extremely low cost to people who need them" (Reuters, 12/7).
A kaisernetwork.org video feature on HIV/AIDS in Brazil is available online. The report -- prepared by Susan Dentzer, also a health correspondent for the "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" -- features interviews with people who are on frontlines of Brazil's efforts.
Additional information on AIDS in Brazil is available online through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.