For Immediate Release, Tuesday 7th January 2003
Catholic Church appeals for Solutions
The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference AIDS Office
supports the cause of the National Association of People living with
AIDS (Napwa) in the calling of government and pharmaceutical
companies to provide cheaper generic antiretrovirals to all people
living with AIDS. Hunger strike, a form of protest action that South
Africans thought was a thing of the past. Napwa’s hunger strike is
part of their "Seven Days Black Christmas," protest aimed
at pharmaceutical companies to provide antiretrovirals drugs free of
The Declaration of Commitment (from the United Nations General
Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, June 2001, New York.) to which
the South African Government was a signatory says, "By 2003,
ensure that national strategies, supported by regional and
international strategies, are developed […] to strengthen
health-care systems and address factors affecting the provision of
HIV-related drugs, including antiretroviral drugs, inter alia,
affordability and pricing, including differential pricing, and
technical and health-care system capacity […] (paragraph 55)
Pharmaceutical companies cannot continue to hold the government
and private individuals to ransom on the costs of AIDS medication.
According to the UNAIDS 2002 Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic,
the price of combination antiretrovirals have dropped significantly
in certain countries where generic drugs and the broad application
of differential pricing for AIDS drugs, based on country need and
ability to pay. The Southern African region has the highest
prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, some countries reaching as high as 40%.
The South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference AIDS Office
re-iterates the call made in the past, we call on the governments
and pharmaceutical companies of the SADC region to speed up the
implementation of clear and effective HIV/AIDS treatment strategies;
and produce generics for free or subsidized distribution.
The SACBC is committed to extensive programmes for the care of
people affected by HIV/AIDS.
For more information and comment please contact Anthony Ambrose
or Sr Alison Munro at 012 323 6458
Issued by: S.A.C.B.C. AIDS Office Date: 07 - 01 - 2003
Ref: Anthony Ambrose 01/2003
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