by H.E. Mr. Ovidiu BRANZAN, the Minister of Health
at the 57th Session of the World Health Assembly
(Geneva, May 19, 2004)
I am particularly pleased to address the 57th World Health Assembly on one of the main challenges confronting humankind in the 21st century: combating HIV/AIDS.
The HIV/AIDS drama is an everyday subject of the international mass media. This approach is sometimes sensation-oriented, but it stems from a cruel reality: millions of hopeless human beings are condemned to misery and despair because of HIV/AIDS. The absence of hope is one of the worst consequences of HIV/AIDS in the most affected countries. At the same time, HIV/AIDS is a real danger for the economic and social development of these countries and can not be tackled efficiently in an individual way.
It is a matter of concern and joint responsibility and action for governments, civil society, private sector and international community at large. At the same time a strong political will is essential in order to remove the obstacles, such as ignorance, discrimination, lack of resources, which are jeopardizing the impact of national and international efforts.
Combating HIV/AIDS has become over the past decade a priority of the United Nations and a commitment enshrined in the UN Millennium Declaration, as one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Romania commends and is deeply involved in the UN efforts aiming at combating HIV/AIDS.
Romania has taken very seriously the challenges of HIV/AIDS at national level. Confronted in the early 1990's with the problem of a large number of children infected with HIV/AIDS, the Romanian authorities undertook sustained measures to improve the situation.
I am pleased to inform you on the substantive progress achieved by Romania in this area, particularly over the past years. We managed to decrease the incidence of pediatric AIDS cases by almost 10 times in the last decade and the nosocomial transmission was eliminated. Romania has made important steps towards a specific and comprehensive legislation regarding the universal access to treatment, as well as the social aspects such as stigma, discrimination and social integration of the infected and affected persons.
The budgets allocated to treatment have had an increasing dynamics since 2001, when the budget was doubled to 20 million USD, reaching the amount of 30 million USD in 2003.
Furthermore, in 2003 a Multisectoral Commission to Fight against HIV/AIDS was set up, under the coordination of the Prime Minister. Its objective is to integrate and coordinate the efforts of government and civil society, as well as the international support to the benefit of the affected persons. This Commission is a major partnership forum and ensures that all the national efforts are coordinated and in line with the national priorities.
The Grant Agreement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, signed in June 2003 allows Romania to continue its commitment almost exclusively to prophylactic activities towards HIV/AIDS through different projects. The budget allocated to these projects accounts for 20 million USD, out of which 16 million USD are devoted to prevention projects.
In the HIV/AIDS National Strategy for 2004 - 2007 we set as a major national goal to keep the incidence of HIV in 2007 at the level registered in 2002. Particular focus will be put on continuing and expanding the partnership with the non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
Addressing HIV/AIDS is not an insurmountable problem. We can break the vicious cycle of disease through solidarity and common action of all governments, civil society, international community, as well as through allocation of adequate resources and use of innovative and effective approach.
In conclusion, allow me Mr. Chairman to express my conviction that the debates will contribute to push forward our joint campaign against HIV/AIDS. I also wish to convey Romania's appreciation and full support for the leadership of WHO in providing the framework of action likely to further enhance cooperation in combating HIV/AIDS all around the world.
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