By Henry Neondo
The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), a group of 700 treatment activists from 100 countries, has expressed strong support for the AIDS treatment access target identified in a new report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, released this week, defines the internationally endorsed "universal access" goal as "80 percent of all people in urgent need of treatment" – or 9.8 million people with access to treatment by 2010.
"It's an old adage that 'what gets measured gets done' so we are very happy to see the UN system finally identifying a specific global target for treatment access," said Gregg Gonsalves, ITPC member.
"Specific targets are needed to focus governments and multilateral agencies on concrete outcomes, not vague commitments, and to hold governments and multilateral agencies accountable. Now the world needs a true strategic plan to support country efforts and ensure rapid scale up of lifesaving HIV treatment."
"It is excellent that the UNAIDS report accepts the 80% coverage target for 2010 that was part of the declaration passed by African governments in May," said Rolake Odetoyinbo, national coordinator for the Treatment Action Movement (TAM) in Nigeria.
"Africa has 75 percent of the burden and we have the fewest resources. If Africa can commit to 80 percent coverage there is no excuse for the rest of the world not to endorse this target as well."
"We are disappointed that African countries such as Gabon and South Africa are negotiating in bad faith by refusing to accept the targets that they agreed to just three weeks ago in Abuja," said Fatima Hassan, treatment activist from South Africa and ITPC member.
"They are doing this by obstructing the inclusion of targets in the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment. Without such targets we will not be able to mobilize necessary resources or hold governments accountable. This is shameful. Millions of people are dying in Africa while they wait for treatment."
Last week, ITPC released a new report on AIDS treatment scale up that warns the world is "off target" to accomplish the universal access goal and that a much better funded and more strategic approach is needed urgently.
The report calls for improved efforts by governments and multilateral agencies. It calls for setting clear, definable global targets, accelerating reforms in the multilateral response, and addressing specific barriers to scale on the country level.