Groups Call on Health Ministers to Boost HIV Treatment Coverage

April 12, 2007

A weeklong meeting of African Union (AU) health ministers is under way in Johannesburg, South Africa, and activists have expressed concern that commitments on HIV/AIDS made at meetings last year are missing from the agenda, the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports.

Conference attendees are drafting a continental health strategy to help Africa achieve the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and the plan will be adopted Friday, the last day of the meeting as indicated on the AU website.

But several groups say the plan fails to include the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care set by African governments at an AU summit last year, according to IRIN.

The groups' petition calls for the previous agreement to be used to guide the current discussions. Officials had set a target of 80 percent antiretroviral treatment coverage by 2010, but so far most countries have less than 30 percent coverage, activists told IRIN.

The groups have also called on conference attendees to include a plan for strengthening drug regulations to make medicines safer and more affordable in their discussions, IRIN said.