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Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 94. Mr. M. Higgins Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  his priorities to aid the global fight against AIDS-HIV; the additional steps the Government intends to take to assist the fight against AIDS-HIV in the African continent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10460/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen In 2001, UNAIDS estimated that more than 40 million people were infected with the HIV-AIDS virus, of which 27 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of the disease in Africa is undermining years of development progress. In some southern African countries, one adult in three is infected and life expectancy is declining from over 60 to a projected 45 years. Africa now has over 11 million HIV-AIDS orphans.

In countries where the Government has promoted strong and effective prevention and education campaigns, HIV-AIDS rates have declined. Uganda, for example, has seen its HIV-AIDS rate decline from over 20% of the adult population to less than 10%. The UN Secretary General has identified strong political leadership as the single most important contribution to the fight against the disease.

In January 2000, Ireland Aid published a HIV-AIDS strategy and integrated the fight against the disease into all of its development activities. The priority issues in the HIV-AIDS programme include: pressing for strong political leadership in Africa to deal with prevention, education and treatment; calling for increased international funding as the crisis demands a global response; supporting the right of poor countries to have access to life-saving medicines at affordable prices; acting in partnership with NGOs, particularly in the care of children orphaned by the HIV-AIDS epidemic; supporting the international search for a HIV-AIDS vaccine.

In response to the spread of the epidemic and its impact on development, Ireland Aid is further strengthening its response to the HIV-AIDS crisis. In June 2001, at the UN Special Session on HIV-AIDS, the Taoiseach gave a commitment that Ireland would spend an additional €34 million per annum on the fight against HIV-AIDS. In 2002, Ireland Aid will spend an estimated €50 million on HIV-AIDS programmes, up from €19 million in 2001. Ireland has announced that it will contribute €10 million in 2002 to the Global Fund to fight HIV-AIDS, malaria and TB. Ireland actively participated in the international effort to establish the fund.

At the WTO ministerial meeting in Doha in November 2001, Ireland and its EU partners supported the Declaration on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and the Declaration on Public Health. The declaration affirms that the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement should be interpreted in a manner which promotes access to medicines for all. In 2002, Ireland Aid will signifi[819] cantly increase its spending on HIV-AIDS programmes in Africa. Our support for the HIV-AIDS activities of both Irish and international NGOs will also increase. Ireland will contribute more than €2 million to the international aids vaccine initiative which is leading the international search for a HIV-AIDS vaccine. Ireland will increase its support to UNAIDS to €2.95 million in 2002, from €1 million in 2001.


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