versão impressa ISSN 0042-9686
Bull World Health Organ vol.81 no.1 Genebra Jan. 2003
New coalition for access to antiretrovirals
A new alliance has been formed to increase access to antiretroviral drugs in low and middleincome countries. Named the International HIV Treatment Action Coalition (ITAC), it was launched on 12 December in Geneva (Switzerland) and Dakar (Senegal), and pools the efforts of more than 50 partners. These include government bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector, academic and research institutions.
Antiretrovirals are not a cure for AIDS but they help to sustain immunity, and in countries where they are widely available they have dramatically reduced HIVrelated illness and death. Of the 3.1 million AIDS deaths which occurred in 2002, 99% were in poorer countries. WHO estimates that only 5% of those who need antiretrovirals in these countries are getting them. In subSaharan Africa, the proportion is thought to be more like 1%.
Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, DirectorGeneral of WHO, expressed the idea that unites the Coalition as follows: "Does anyone deserve to be sentenced to death because she or he cannot access care that costs less than $ 2 a day? Is anyone's life worth so little? Should any family become destitute as a result? Should children be orphaned? The answers must be no, no, no and no."
Served by a small secretariat at WHO's headquarters in Geneva, ITAC plans to promote reliable drug procurement systems, more efficient information sharing about what makes programmes work, and training for health workers. It also aims to galvanize donors and provide technical support for national HIV treatment programmes. Dr Joep Lange, President of the International AIDS Society, said: "These drugs have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in Europe and the United States. They could do the same for millions more in developing countries. If we can get cold CocaCola and beer to every remote corner of Africa, it should not be impossible to do the same with drugs."