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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Yishan, Deputy Permanent Representative of China, On HIV/AIDS At the 57th Session of the General Assembly

2002/11/08

Mr. President,

The Chinese delegation wishes to register its appreciation to the Secretary-General for the report and recommendations submitted under this agenda item.

Over the past two decades, the scourge of HIV/AIDS has been sprawling unchecked around the world, resulting in over 40 million infections and more than 21 million deaths.  It is projected that an additional 45 million people will be infected between 2002 and 2010.  HIV/AIDS poses a great challenge to social development, economic growth, and political stability around the world and, for that matter, the safety and survival of humankind.

Mr. President,

As a global crisis, HIV/AIDS requires a concerted response through global action.  At a series of major conferences, including the Millennium Summit, the World Summit for Social Development and the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic was put high on their agenda.  At its special session on HIV/AIDS held last year, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, setting out the goals, tasks and responsibilities in the international cooperation against HIV/AIDS.  Now, the Declaration has become an important document guiding our struggle against HIV/AIDS.  Many countries have developed national prevention strategies in line with the Declaration.  International organizations, governmental bodies and civil society have adopted a series of positive measures in the fields of legislation, mobilization of resources, extensive provision of drugs for prevention and treatment and increase of public awareness.  What merits particular mention is the fact that the Global Fund,
which was established at the beginning of this year only, has attracted over $ 2 billion of pledges and approved the disbursement of $616 million of related relief funds to low- and middle-income countries for the next five years.  Nonetheless, the figure is still a far cry from the annual target of $10 billion.

We still have a long way to go in combating HIV/AIDS.  As the Secretary-General points out in his report, due to ineffective implementation, inadequate funding and shortage of medical supplies, progress in stemming the epidemic lags far behind its unrelenting advance and destructive trend.  In this connection, I wish to make a few observations on the international cooperation on HIV/AIDS.

I. Prevention and treatment should go hand-in-hand effectively in combating HIV/AIDS

While prevention is fundamental, treatment is the key.  We should therefore take a two-pronged approach by making a concerted effort to push forward the targets and implementing the tasks set forth in the Declaration for 2003 and 2005.  They include formulating national strategies for combating HIV/AIDS, incorporating them into national development plans and poverty eradication programs, setting out clear goals and taking measures for prevention and treatment, raising public awareness and strengthening health-care systems, and ensuring monitoring and enforcement.

II. Mobilize financial resources and provide access to drugs in fighting against HIV/AIDS

In his report, the Secretary-General points out that funding for international cooperation against HIV/AIDS should grow by at least 50 per cent annually in order to meet the annual requirement of $10 billion by 2005 and that only a small fraction of the world's 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS have access to treatment due to patent-related problems and the high cost of related-drugs.  It is our hope that the United Nations as well as its relevant specialized agencies, funds and development programs, UNAIDS in particular, will play an active and leading role in enhancing cooperation between governments and the private sector, exploring both traditional and innovative means in mobilizing financial resources and making HIV-related drugs widely available so that the poor populations who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS in developing countries are given access to these drugs.   This will help effectively to resolve the major problem in our fight against HIV/AIDS and benefit people living with the epidemic.

III. Promote research and development in bringing HIV/AIDS under control

It is highly desirable to develop HIV-related vaccines as a means to bring HIV/AIDS under eventual control.  We hope that this issue will receive adequate attention as part and parcel of the global strategy.  To this end, it is imperative to increase investment in and speed up the development of HIV-related vaccines, build up the R & D capability of all countries, particularly developing countries and countries with high infection rates, carry out international cooperation, increase the transfer of relevant technologies and establish mechanisms for regular exchange.

Mr. President,

The fight against HIV/AIDS has received great attention from the Chinese government which formulated and started implementing the AIDS strategy  in 1998.  Our budget for combating HIV/AIDS registered a six- to seven-fold increase in 2001.  We have also invested 1.2 billion yuan of RMB to improve our blood collection and supply facilities.  In addition, following the GA special session on HIV/AIDS last year, China succeeded in convening its first national conference on the same subject and cosponsored a regional seminar for Asia and the Pacific under the Global Fund.  In this endeavor, UNAIDS provided China with great support for which we wish to record our gratitude.  As a country with a huge population, China faces special difficulties in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS.  We would like to continue our cooperation with the countries and international agencies concerned in such areas as financing, developing prevention and treatment projects, lowering drug prices and further leveraging the advantage of traditional Chinese medicine in treatment in a bid to contribute to the fight against the epidemic in China and around the globe.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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