New Chinese HIV/AIDS Policy ‘Powerful Statement’ of Leadership, Opinion Piece Says
The Chinese government's new HIV/AIDS policy is a "powerful statemen[t] from the leadership" and is "more than just symbolic," Odilon Couzin, executive director of China AIDS Info, writes in a China Daily opinion piece. However, the government will face "huge problems" implementing the policy because the Chinese health care infrastructure is "inadequate" and the "marketization" of health care that has taken place over the past 20 years means that doctors and hospitals "rely on drug sales for their livelihood," Couzin says. To overcome these obstacles, physicians will have to "put the health of AIDS patients before their own profits" and "overcome their fear" of treating HIV-positive people, Couzin says, adding that the government also will have to find a way to make antiretroviral drugs affordable for most HIV-positive Chinese. Many multinational pharmaceutical companies are offering "anything but healthy competition" in China, and even their "discount" prices for antiretroviral drugs are subject to restrictions, Couzin says. The Chinese government should "set a bold precedent in international trade" by issuing compulsory licenses for patented HIV/AIDS drugs and producing generic versions of the drugs, Couzin says, concluding that China has the "technical capacity to supply not only the domestic market but the world's developing countries with cheap, life-saving AIDS drugs," and it is "time for that to become a reality" (Couzin, China Daily, 5/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.