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Investment In Health Systems 'A Critical Prerequisite' In Beginning To End AIDS

The XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place last week in Washington, D.C., “ignited momentum to shift from ‘fighting AIDS’ to ‘ending AIDS,’” Mohga Kamal-Yanni, senior health adviser at Oxfam International, and Urvarshi Rajcoomer, policy and advocacy adviser at Oxfam in South Africa, write in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece. “Oxfam believes investing in health systems such as infrastructure and health worker, drug supply chain and health information systems, is a critical prerequisite to ending AIDS,” they write. However, “to make this a reality,” pharmaceutical companies, donor governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank “must now do their part,” they continue.

Pharmaceutical companies should grant licenses to enable the production of affordable generic HIV medicines; the U.S. trade representative should stop “pushing for enhanced monopoly protection on new medicines,” including antiretrovirals; the Global Fund should “reject top-down approaches and instead maintain the country ownership principal that the fund prides itself on and truly delivers for those in need”; and the World Bank “should … enable[e] developing countries — with help from other donors — to invest in free public health care and in supporting community-based care,” the authors state. “Prevention programs — both bio-medical and social — remain the mainstay of HIV and AIDS response work,” they add, noting, “Critical to the success of these programs is ongoing awareness-raising and anti-discrimination work that allows the majority of people who need access to treatment and care to get it without being stigmatized” (8/1).