Progress is slow, but steady, in the Afro-European Platform, which examines ways in which the European union can help Africa to eradicate AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. For now, 200m. Euros (182m. USD) is on the way for clinical trials.
The social and economic impact of AIDS, malaria and TB is horrific: 20 million people dead in two decades, millions of orphans, reduction in economic growth, millions of HIV positive people in urgent need of treatment and whole population centres destroyed. The so-called poverty diseases are a worldwide problem, but these problems are much more accentuated in Africa.
Ancient tribal beliefs, lack of knowledge and absence of care are making infection rates, particularly of AIDS, rife and TB mutates into a multi-resistant form which is also on the increase in cities in the developed countries.
There are 47 million people infected with AIDS worldwide, 5 million of these being children. Today’s 14 million orphans is forecast to reach 40 million by 2010. Over the next two decades, 200 million people will become infected with Koch Bacillus (TB); 35 million of these are expected to die. 500 million people become infected with malaria each year, while 2.7 million die and 30 million become chronically ill with the disease.
During the Portuguese presidency of the European Union, then President William Clinton came to Lisbon (May, 2000) and made the first declaration concerning these diseases and poverty. It was decided that a massive investment had to be made to address the problems caused by AIDS, malaria and TB. This was followed by the G8 meeting in Okinawa, Japan, during which it was decided that a programme to combat these three diseases was a priority.
The EU now follows suit, with a plan to provide 200 million Euros (182 m. USD) for the European-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Programme (EDCTP). At the next meeting in Barcelona, on the 19th and 20th April, a formal programme will be announced to define roles and accelerate the aid programme’s implementation.
The EDCTP intends to work closely with research centres in other continents to maximise common knowledge.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru