Call For Renewed Efforts To Face HIV and Global Health Challenges

The 2nd Health Ministers’ meeting of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) concluded in New Delhi, India recently, with a strong call for strengthened cooperation in the implementation of affordable, equitable and sustainable solutions for common health challenges.

During his opening remarks, Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India, highlighted the progress of the BRICS countries in the global AIDS response. “In India, we have reduced new HIV infections by 57% in the last decade, which puts us on track to halt and reverse the spread of HIV.” He was making reference to reaching one key HIV-related development goal by 2015.

Addressing the participants, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé emphasized the unique role of the BRICS countries to draw on their positive experience with HIV to serve as an engine for innovation, research and development of health solutions for other developing countries.

“Today, the BRICS are demonstrating how health is increasingly a tool of foreign policy and a vehicle for promoting global health and development for the entire world,” said Mr. Sidibe. He also described global health as going through an important transition beyond disease specific approaches and adopting a people-centered approach to global health.

Several of the other BRICS Ministers highlighted their national commitments to HIV and the need to create a BRICS platform to enhance cooperation on global health, including HIV. The five BRICS countries represent 43% of the global population, giving them a unique and growing role in contributing to global health. According to the Minister Azad, “the BRICS are very mature in our outlook, and have almost achieved adulthood.

Let us now work together to consolidate our gains and collaborate at the bilateral and multilateral levels to provide global leadership in many areas.” The meeting adopted the Delhi Communiqué, which calls for the BRICS to renew efforts to face the continued challenge posed by HIV.  The Delhi Communiqué reiterated the commitment of the BRICS countries to “ensure that bilateral and regional trade agreements do not undermine TRIPS flexibilities so as to assure the availability of affordable generic antiretroviral drugs to developing countries.”

Intellectual property and trade flexibilities within the intellectual property rights system were set out in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  Evidence from countries across the world shows that the use of TRIPS flexibilities has helped substantially lower the costs of HIV treatment.

At the closing of the meeting, it was announced that the next BRICS Ministerial meeting will be hosted by South Africa in January 2014.

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