A decisive year in the battle against pandemics

Published on European Voice.com, by Michel Kazatchkine, 24.03.2010.

The past decade has demonstrated that, with international commitment, it is possible to reduce AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria substantially …

… 2010 will be a decisive year in the fight against the three pandemics: the world will review progress on the MDGs, and it will decide on replenishment of the Global Fund for 2011-13. The outcome will decide where the world will be in 2015 with regard to the health-related MDGs. If we continue to scale up rapidly, there is the possibility that malaria could be eliminated as a public-health problem in most malaria-endemic countries; millions more HIV infections might be prevented and lives otherwise lost to AIDS saved; the growing threat of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis might be contained; and we might virtually eliminate transmission of HIV from mother to child.

This is, of course, a huge challenge. Even today, less than half of the people in urgent need can obtain life-saving treatment while access to prevention measures remains limited for many. Human-rights abuses against people living with HIV and most-at-risk groups continue. In Africa alone, 400,000 babies were born with HIV last year – a moral outrage and a public-health and human-rights disaster.

The experience of the past ten years shows that prevention and treatment can be scaled up cost-effectively and at unprecedented speed in poor countries and, in the process, strengthening health systems, reducing child mortality and improving maternal mortality. This is no time for us to slow down our efforts. Rather, we should redouble them. (full text).

(Michel Kazatchkine is the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria).

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