The mission of the WHO-UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Initiative (HVI) is to promote the development, facilitate evaluation, and address future availability of preventive HIV vaccines, with a focus on the need of developing countries.
Since the start of the epidemic, HIV has infected almost 58 million men, women and children and AIDS has cost the lives of nearly 22 million adults and children. Despite the intense international response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, HIV continues to spread, causing more than 15,000 new infections every day, 95% of these are in the developing world. Today AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa, and the fourth worldwide. As it is the case with other infectious diseases, a safe, effective and available vaccine is ultimately required to complement and enhance the effectiveness of existing prevention strategies to control the HIV/AIDS pandemic, especially in developing countries.
The urgent need to accelerate the development of an AIDS vaccine prompted the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to join forces in establishing the new HIV Vaccine Initiative (HVI) to boost HIV/AIDS vaccine efforts, taking advantage of their complementary expertise:
UN agencies and generic pharmaceutical companies step up collaboration to expand access to essential medicines
26 February 2003
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recognize that the generic pharmaceutical industry has a vital role to play in efforts to provide safe and effective medicines at low cost to improve health and save lives.
At meetings this week, WHOs, Director-General, Gro Harlem Brundtland welcomed the commitment made by the International Generic Pharmaceutical Alliance (IGPA) and generic manufacturers of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to work in close collaboration with UN agencies to achieve increased access to safe and effective medicines of assured quality.
Future collaboration will include work on motivating increased competition to achieve lower prices, quality assurance and scaling up essential medicines provision for priority diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. IGPA members agreed that participating in projects such as the UN Interagency quality assessment of pharmaceutical suppliers and products would stand them in good stead for providing their services to international and local medicines procurement.
The meeting with generic ARV manufacturers was jointly initiated by WHO and UNAIDS to confirm that the UN family is fully committed to working with the international generic industry as well as brand name companies to scale up access to HIV/AIDS care. The annual WHO roundtable with the brand name companies was held earlier this month.
The generic industry reiterated its commitment to working with the international community to achieve progressively lower prices and sustainable supply of key HIV medicines, including, wherever possible, the development of simplified quality treatments through single pill fixed-dose combinations.
They agreed that the target of three million people on ARV treatment by 2005 is achievable with the collective efforts of the world's pharmaceutical industries, provided that there is sufficient financing, a predictable demand for ARVs, and a solid commitment to building up supply and care capacities in countries.
Participants at the meetings included Chief Executive Officers and senior managers from companies and associations in Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.
For more information contact:
Ms Daniela Bagozzi - Information officer
Chris Powell - Information Officer