Saturday, June 17, 2006

HIV convention a real letdown

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is disappointed with the recent United Nations HIV convention in New York for not taking the issue of preventive measures seriously.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said no concrete steps were taken on the matter even though many topics were discussed at the convention.
Although the event was deemed a success because more than 90 countries made commitments, he said the commitments were only political ones.
“We are disappointed because there was not much discussion on education, on how to prevent HIV.
“How can we prevent it effectively if it is not discussed thoroughly?” he told a press conference after launching the second national Men's Health and Ageing Conference here yesterday.
Dr Chua said the disease had become an epidemic in many countries and there was a need to find ways to reduce the social stigma of the disease.
“There were no positive steps. They were only mentioned in passing.”
Dr Chua said there were no thorough discussions on the accessibility to expensive anti-retroviral drugs.
“Although the World Health Organisation has made a commitment that three million victims were to be treated by 2005, only 1.4 million victims received treatment last year,” he said.
“So how will the UN help the countries that cannot afford the treatment?”
Dr Chua said Malaysia, however, was able to afford the treatment because the country had broken the patent of the drug for non-commercial purposes.
“We are proud that we have broken the patent and that was why we could reduce the price of the drug from RM1,200 to RM150,” he said.

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