Wednesday, 6 December 2006

World AIDS Day

On Friday I was very pleased to show my support for Oxfam's World Aids day - you can read the Oxfam press release below. Of course the points made so well by students about poverty and inability in the third world to pay for medicines chimes with the campaign to abolish prescription charges here.
Students, Oxfam & Annie Lennox back World AIDS Day
Developing World needs 4.2 million health workers
Scottish students will join Oxfam in Scotland to mark World AIDS Day, [Today, 1st December]. Students and Oxfam campaigners will back Oxfam’s campaign to ensure everyone living with HIV and AIDS has access to the medicines they need.
Oxfam is calling on pharmaceutical companies to supply affordable medicines to all who need them and want governments to pay over £12.7 billion per year for 4.2 million extra health workers.
In order to highlight the plight of HIV and AIDS sufferers students will pose as ‘patients’ in a hospital bed with a text board on the front of the bed with Diagnosis: “Too Poor to Pay". Next to the bed will be a sales rep from "Big Pharma", holding a giant pillbox out of reach of the patient. The pillbox will be labelled “ Profit Pills put profit before People”.
Eurythmics star Annie Lennox, who is backing Oxfam’s campaign, said,
“ Last year, 8,000 people died every single day from AIDS, and there were 14,000 new infections each day. Poor countries are being forced to deal with an unprecedented health crisis without the means to tackle it.
“ Governments can only show how seriously they are taking this crisis by taking immediate action to provide four million extra health workers and to grant those in need access to affordable medicines.”
Adam Ramsay, Co -convenor of Edinburgh University’s People and Planet said,
“ Forty million people in the world are suffering from HIV and AIDS. What is needed is for people in developing countries to be able to get affordable medicines easily.
“ People everywhere who have HIV and AIDS should have the same rights to life enhancing medicines regardless of their social class, nationality or gender. World AIDS Day gives a chance to ram home the message around the HIV and AIDS epidemic.”
John McAllion, campaigner for Oxfam in Scotland added,
“ The record of the pharmaceutical industry in putting profits before patients has been abysmal. They have continually lobbied rich country governments to provide stricter patent protection for their products in trade negotiations, and have put legal pressure on poor countries that dared to use international safeguards to guarantee public access to cheaper generic drugs.
“ Big Pharma companies must accept that people’s lives should always come before their commercial interests. Lives must not be put at risk for the sake of company profits.”
Contact: Eileen Clarkson on 0141 285 8859/07770 281419
1) The event will take place on Fri 1st December 1-2pm outside the main library at Edinburgh University on George Square.
2) Students from Edinburgh University’s People and Planet Group, Oxfam Volunteers and Stop Aids societies are taking part in the ‘Big Pharma’ stunt
3) Also attending are Mark Lazarowicz MP, Gavin Strang MP, John Barratt MP, Colin Fox MSP, Sarah Boyack MSP, Mike Pringle MSP, Margaret Smith MSP and Mark Ballard MSP.
4) 39.6 million men, women and children now live with HIV, 14,000 people are newly infected every day, and 2.9 million people died this year from AID –related illnesses. Two-thirds of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa. There are now more women than men infected by HIV.
5) Annie Lennox has recorded a 15 and 35 second audio piece for radio/web broadcast which can be downloaded from:

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