RIGHT TO ANTI-RETROVIRAL TREATMENT CAMPAIGN
The campaign on access to anti-retroviral treatment aims at securing the right of PLWHA in Ghana and in the sub-region to anti-retroviral treatment without any forms of hindrance - financial, geographical, and informational, among others.
broad goal is to contribute to poverty reduction through the
realization of basic rights, especially the right to health of people,
with the specific objectives being:
- To enable PLWHA in Ghana access free, good quality and effective anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and delivery system by December 2007
- To ensure ART programmes are safe and effective through community support
WHY THE CAMPAIGN?
Millions of people have died of AIDS, with over 95% of these from developing countries, since the emergence of this epidemic. Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for 25 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, as large pharmaceutical firms, supported by the WTO patent rules under TRIPS, are concerned with the commercial and not the social gains in the production of anti-retroviral drugs through their defense and enforcement of patent rights over patients' rights, cost of treatment of HIV/AIDS remain beyond the reach of the poor.
Access to anti-retroviral treatment will prolong the lives of PLWHA, thereby improving productivity that will consequently lead to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. It will address PLWHA's right to health and right to life, and contribute to the achievement of the MDG 6. It will also reduce the disease burden on those affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly children who would otherwise be orphaned early in their lives. This will play a key role in facilitating the achievement of Education for All, as such children will have an enhanced opportunity to remain in school.
ART is currently available in only four sites in the public health system, all located in southern Ghana (Korlebu teaching hospital, Komfo-Anokye teaching hospital, Atua government hospital and St Martin's hospital, Agormanya). A national ART scale up plan exists which seeks to make ART available in eight sites (4 regional hospitals and 4 district hospitals) by January 2005, in all regional hospitals by December 2005, 50% of the district hospitals by 2007 and all district hospitals by December 2009. The pace at which these plans are being executed gives room to doubt their achievement. The ART campaign seeks to constantly remind and put pressure on the relevant bodies involved, for acceleration in the implementation of the ART access programme.
There remains an unacceptably high level of stigmatization of, and discrimination against PLWHA, largely due to continued misconception about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This hinders an effective fight against the spread of the disease as well as access to ART.
There is equally high ignorance about mitigating possibilities for PLWHA as many people in Ghana, especially in the rural communities, are generally unaware that a person living with HIV can be enabled to live a relatively healthy and productive life for a long period through access to anti-retroviral treatment and other mitigating measures.
Inspired by the global commitments in ensuring the well being and development of all humans, and the Millennium Declaration's mandate to civil society to help in ensuring that governments take the necessary steps in achieving the MDGs, ISODEC and the Coalition for Universal Access to Free Anti-retroviral Treatment (UCAART) are campaigning for the right of PLWHA to anti-retroviral treatment, while bearing in mind that drugs alone is not enough. In this light the campaign will also be highlighting on related issues that will strengthen delivery systems and provide adequate social infrastructure, including issues bordering on discrimination against and stigmatisation of PLWHA.
- that anti-retroviral drugs ( ARVs ) should not be commercialized
- that countries make use of WTO flexibilities on patents by importing and where possible manufacturing effective ARV generics
- that countries that have capacities in manufacturing generics are allowed to do so and should make them available and affordable to countries that do not have such capacities
- that regional integration agreements include free flow of ARVs between governments
- that poor countries' capacities be built to produce their own generics - by provision of technical and financial aid packages
- that ARVs be used and treated as Expanded Programme for Immunization - that they are treated as public health drugs and administered through primary health outreach to PLWHA
- that the right to treatment go hand in hand with the right to food.
- that government policy makes access to ARVs a priority
- that drugs imported are free and accessible to all PLWHA
- that drugs are distributed equitably to all without discrimination or biases
- that there is sufficient information as to how and where to access the ARVs
- that enough sensitization is done to inform citizens of the benefits of ARVS (eg. prolong live of PLWHA, increased productivity etc.) So as to encourage people to go for voluntary testing without fear of stigmatization or imminent death
- that adequate infrastructure is put in place in the shortest possible time, at all levels in the health delivery system, to facilitate access to ART in a safe and reliable manner by all PLWHA
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