Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday pledged CAD$100 million (US$72m/£41m) to the World Health Organisation’s 3×5 initiative to bring antiretroviral treatment to three million people living with HIV by the end of 2005.
Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday pledged CAD$100 million (US$72m/£41m) to the World Health Organisation’s 3×5 initiative to bring antiretroviral treatment to three million people living with HIV by the end of 2005. Mr Martin promised the funds during a wide-ranging foreign-policy speech in Montreal. “Canada is a leader in the global fight against HIV/AIDS”, he said. “Simply put, if we don’t address the AIDS pandemic urgently, other international development efforts are certain to fail.” The UN’s Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, said "In the long-term fight against the pandemic, this may turn out to be one of the truly crucial moments." The 3×5 initiative is an ambitious programme which aims to help countries severely affected by HIV/AIDS to start providing a fixed dose antiretroviral regimen to all people with symptomatic HIV disease. Treatment will consist of either AZT/3TC or d4T/3TC plus nevirapine or efavirenz, and it will be delivered and monitored by health care workers and clinical officers, as well as community volunteers. This is a much-needed shot in the arm for the 3×5 programme, which has a US$218 million (£124m) budget but which, until Canada’s pledge, had only raised approximately US$60 million (£34m) from its own sources. It is hoped that Canada’s announcement will spur other industrialised nations to provide to the rest of the funds. A £3 million contribution from the British government was announced in March. The director of the WHO’s department of HIV/AIDS, Jim Yong Kim, told The Boston Globe that there had only been enough money for the next four months before Canada effectively doubled the 3×5 coffers. ”Now we are going to essentially build an army to provide the services the WHO has been asked to do," he said. ”The WHO should be able at the drop of a hat bring to any country of the world its best expertise to do things" to meet health crises. ”With this money, we are going to send a group of people all over the world and help ministries of health set up programs to treat people with AIDS." Canada was already a world leader in fighting AIDS in developing countries prior to yesterday’s announcement. Last September, Canada’s International Trade and Industry Ministers announced plans to introduce legislation to allow generic drug manufacturers in Canada to make generic versions of antiretrovirals for export to developing countries. The legislation was unanimously approved by Canada’s House of Commons on May 4th. The Boston Globe also reports that Canada is soon expected to announce a major donation to the Global Fund. (source: AIDSMAP, May 2004)