South Africa’ News: Campaign activists have expressed their concerns: they want the poorest countries to have access to life-saving drugs at costs they can afford

In a brief, UNDP and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) urged members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to consider the special needs and requirement of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and extend their transition period to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) next week.

Two United Nations agencies today called for the renewal of an agreement that allows the world’s poorest countries to access life-saving drugs at costs they can afford, stressing that failing to do so would jeopardize crucial treatment for HIV/AIDS and other diseases for those who need it the most.

“Access to affordable HIV treatment and other essential medicines is vital if least developed countries are to achieve the health-related and other Millennium Development Goals,” Administrator of the UN Development Programme Helen Clark said, referring to the eight anti-poverty targets that include halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal access for treatment of this disease to all those who need it by 2015. Source;
Treatment Action Campaign activists have picketed at the Africa Intellectual Property (IP) Forum – demanding change to South Africa’s Intellectual property laws for the better and to increase universal access to healthcare and safeguard the interests of public health – and handed over a memorandum to Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, before his keynote address.
Established in 1995, the TRIPS agreement sets minimum standards for various forms of intellectual property regulation at a global scale, including medical drugs. However, patent protection is a factor that drives up drug costs, making many essential treatments unaffordable for LDCs.
“An extension would allow the world’s poorest nations to ensure sustained access to medicines, build up viable technology bases, and manufacture or import the medicines they need,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.

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