APEC Leaders Reaffirm Commitment To Fighting HIV/AIDS
Leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday at the end of the two-day annual summit passed the Santiago Declaration, which includes a renewed commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region, the AP/Australian Financial Review reports (AP/Australian Financial Review, 11/21). President Bush led the discussion and called for all 21 APEC countries to "unite" and "turn the tide" against the "greatest health risk of our time," according to Australia's The Age (Gordon/Schubert, The Age, 11/22). Australian Prime Minister John Howard made a "strong statement" regarding the global issue of HIV/AIDS during the summit and called for "unambiguous and determined policies" to fight the disease, the ABC/Yahoo! News reports (ABC/Yahoo! News, 11/22). Howard said that without "no-nonsense" government leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS, financial support would be "virtually useless," The Age reports (The Age, 11/22). "It's not just a question of more and more billions of dollars being made available by wealthy countries; you've got to have well-directed public education programs, and you've got to deal with these things in a very upfront fashion," Howard said, Papau New Guinea's Post-Courier reports (Post-Courier, 11/22). Howard added, "The countries that have most success with public health programs are ones where there is a strong, clear no-nonsense statement and very strong support for changes in behavior," Australia's Advertiser reports (Wright, Advertiser, 11/22). Howard said that governments in some African countries had "failed" to adequately address the growing HIV/AIDS problem through awareness and prevention (Post-Courier, 11/22).
Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during the summit discussed how to help developing countries gain access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS patients, TNA/MCOT News reports. "We want to address on cooperation among member countries to tackle future health crisis," he said (TNA/MCOT News, 11/20). Thaksin called for increased donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to help HIV/AIDS patients access antiretroviral drugs in order to "have normal lives in society," TNA/MCOT News reports. "Thailand would supply the surplus of the locally made anti-AIDS drugs to its neighboring countries, and we have cooperated with China in producing herbal medicines which would be offered at an affordable price to AIDS patients in developing countries," he said. Thaksin added that the APEC forum had "welcomed" Thailand's proposed initiatives, TNA/MCOT News reports (TNA/MCOT News, 11/21).