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Pressemelding, 06.04.2001

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg I

Utgiver: Utenriksdepartementet

Status: Arkivert

Press release

No.: 62/01
Date: 06.04.2001

Conference on how developing countries can gain access to essential drugs on reasonable terms. Høsbjør 8 – 11 April 2001

On Sunday, the Minister of International Development Anne Kristin Sydnes will welcome experts from all over the world, who will discuss how developing countries can gain access to essential drugs on reasonable terms. The conference will be held at Høsbjør, near Hamar, from 8 to 11 April 2001, and is being arranged by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"The topic of the conference has recently aroused great public interest. The main aim is to investigate the factors which currently prevent developing countries from gaining access to essential drugs on reasonable terms", said the Minister of International Development. Various types of solutions to the problems will be discussed. Access to both patented and non-patented (so-called generic) drugs will be on the agenda. The discussions will involve all types of essential drugs and will not be confined to specific diseases.

"One of the reasons why Norway is hosting this conference is because we wish to focus on combating hiv/aids" says Ms. Sydnes. "In Africa alone, 25 million people are infected with hiv/aids, and on a global level over five million people became infected last year. Most of these new cases are people in the poorest countries of the world. In many countries the pandemic has become a human and social catastrophe."

The financing of essential drugs will also be debated at the conference. The Harvard economist Jeffery Sachs has estimated that in Africa alone NOK 90 billion is needed annually to combat hiv/aids and other diseases. But if this sum was divided between everyone who lives in the prosperous parts of the world, it would amount to only NOK 90 per person. An important task is to mobilize adequate resources for this struggle – both economic and human. For this purpose, both international donor countries and the countries which are affected need to work together.

The conference participants are primarily experts, both from developed and developing countries. These experts come from many different sectors, such as research institutions, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, public authorities and drug companies. They have expertise in many fields, such as drugs, patents, international health and consumer rights, financing issues and competition policy.

Much of the discussion will be about the legal, economic and health policy framework that is needed in order to maintain different prices in poor and wealthy countries. But other more practical issues will also be discussed, such as labelling, purchasing and distribution of drugs.

"Norway also wishes to ensure that the ethical challenges are high on the agenda. Millions of people living in poor countries today do not have access to essential drugs on reasonable terms", said Ms. Sydnes.

The documents produced for the conference will be published in May 2001, along with the WHO/WTO report on the conference.

The WHO/WTO background documents for the conference can already be found on the home pages of these organizations. The web address of the WTO is www.wto.org and the documents can be found under the title TRIPS. The web address of the WHO is www.who.int.

A press release summarizing the main points from the conference, will be available on these home pages immediately after the conference.

A telephone conference for the international and Norwegian media will be held on Wednesday 11 April at 15.30. Norwegian journalists can participate in the telephone conference using a separate telephone line to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about the telephone conference is available from Adviser Gry Haaheim, tel: 22 24 31 65.

The conference is not open to the media.

Head of Information Jon Mørland, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tel: 22 24 39 11.
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