UNITED NATIONS: As the UN sets the "ambitious goal" of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, India has said the challenge before the international community is ensuring access to high-cost medical treatments in developing nations.
"We have set ourselves an ambitious goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The challenge before us is not of unavailability of medical treatment, but of accessibility arising from its high cost in many developing countries," said India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Bhagwant Bishnoi.
"We need to bridge this North-South divide if we are to achieve the 2030 target," Bishnoi said here yesterday at a session on 'Implementation Of The Declaration Of Commitment On HIV/AIDS and The Political Declaration On HIV/AIDS'.
He said the Indian pharmaceutical industry has been plugging this "critical gap" by producing high-quality affordable drugs in India, and in other developing countries.
"India is committed to using all flexibilities allowed under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organisation to ensure the availability of affordable and quality medicine to all people living with HIV," he said.
Bishnoi, however, termed "regrettable" that these TRIPS flexibilities, which are critical for the provision of public health to millions across the developing world, are being questioned in some quarters.
"It would be most callous if we were to allow narrow considerations of commerce to deny the most basic and the most fundamental human right -- the right to life," he said.
He said while governments undoubtedly need to augment their efforts, it is equally evident that many developing nations will not be able to meet these challenges themselves.
"The need for international solidarity to ensure an integrated and holistic approach that includes effective prevention strategies, access to low-cost affordable treatment for all and scaled up treatment and sound health systems can't be overemphasised if we are to end HIV/AIDS by 2030," he said.
Outlining the measures taken by India, he said a strategy for the period 2012-2017 is in place which is based on lessons learnt from the previous phases of the programme.
"This aims to accelerate the process of reversal by further strengthening the epidemic response. We have also involved the corporate sector, NGOs and other stakeholders as partners towards this end," he said.
He said the Secretary General's report on AIDS has pointed out the need for accelerated efforts to ensure that required levels of international and domestic funding are available to stabilise progress and maintain HIV-related services.