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Statement by Zhang Wenkang, Minister of Health of China, at the Special UN General Assembly Session on HIV/Aids
(25 June 2001)

2001/06/25

Your Excellency Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is of great significance to convene, at the beginning of a new century, the special session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS to review, coordinate and strengthen prevention and control activities at the global level. The convocation of this special session is a manifestation of great importance attached by countries as well as their determination and courage in combating HIV/AIDS. This meeting will certainly have a profound bearing on the control activities against HIV/AIDS over the world. I would like to take this opportunity to, on behalf of the Chinese Government, thank the United Nations for its attention and support to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and for its arrangement and preparation for this special session.

Mr. President,

The Chinese Government deeply appreciates the efforts of the United Nations for the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS at the global level, particularly in the coordination and strengthening of activities of relevant international organizations. In his report, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has correctly analyzed and accurately assessed the prevalence of HIV/AIDS at the global level. He has timely pointed out the need to integrate control and prevention activities with socioeconomic development and to share and disseminate successful experiences of certain countries in their control activities. He has also stressed in his report the importance of the strengthening of leadership, the improvement of coordination and the mobilization of resources in control activities as the three strategies at the global as well as the national level.

A profound change has taken place in the development trend of HIV/AIDS, which is still spreading across the world. Africa is seriously affected. Consequently its socioeconomic development has been undermined. As the most densely populated continent, Asia has witnessed the fastest rate of spreading of HIV/AIDS, which has affected more than 7.5 million people, and the number of victims is continuously growing. Asia is therefore presumably the next region in the world worst hit by HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Latin American, Caribbean and East European regions is becoming more and more serious, and there is no sign of alleviation. HIV/AIDS has become a danger and crisis over the world and global action is called for in order to hold back its continuous spreading.

Mr. President,

The Chinese Government gives priority to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. In 1996, the "Regime of Coordination for the Control of STDs and HIV/AIDS" was established at the central government level, chaired by a leading official of the State Council and participated by high-level officials of 34 ministries and commissions. In 1998, the "Mid and Long term Programme for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS in China (1998-2000)" was formulated by the State Council. This year, the "Plan of Action for the Restraint and Control of HIV/AIDS in China (2001-2005)" was formulated. The input of funding for the control of HIV/AIDS from the central government has increased about 7 folds, from RMB 15 million yuan to the present RMB 100 million yuan. RMB 900 million yuan in the form of national bonds has been used for further improvement of services of blood banks. Input in this aspect from the local level has increased accordingly. The prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in China is steadily progressing under the leadership of the government at all levels.

The Chinese Delegation takes the view that in HIV/AIDS control, the leadership, coordination and resources are closely inter-linked. Inadequate resources are major factors to the worsening of HIV/AIDS prevalence, which occur mainly in developing countries. The rapid spreading of HIV/AIDS is attributable to poverty and is, at the same time, a major contributing factor to worse poverty. The capability of developing countries in combating HIV/AIDS has been weakened by the irrational international political and economic order, the heavy burden of debts and inadequate technical know-how. Here, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest the following proposals:

1. Laying emphasis on prevention is a strategy of prime importance to the control of HIV/AIDS, particularly by developing countries, whose resources are inadequate. Only by doing a better job perseveringly in prevention can we free the broad mass of people from the threats of HIV/AIDS, minimize the impact of HIV/AIDS on socioeconomic development and protect the interests of communities, families and individuals.

2. The treatment of HIV/AIDS is a critical issue. However, expensive treatment is beyond the reach of most patients in developing countries. There still are many barriers standing in the way of most patients to get effective and affordable medicines. It is utterly unfair. With the current trend of lowering pharmaceutical prices in the international market, the United Nations is expected to cooperate closely with the rest of international community to promote the solution of treatment of HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries, in order to benefit the vast number of patients.

3. The international community should adopt both good measures in light of current issues and long-term control and prevention strategies. Vaccination against HIV/AIDS, which is a measure for thorough control of HIV/AIDS and more economical for developing countries, merits adequate attention in a global control strategy.

4. International cooperation should be further strengthened for the mobilization of resources to render aid and support to developing countries in their efforts to control HIV/AIDS. It is the responsibility of the international community to help developing countries in their control activities. It would be impossible to realize the global control of HIV/AIDS without the improvement of situation of the worst hit regions as soon as possible.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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