Ireland “determined to keep its shoulder to the wheel” on HIV & AIDS
In a recent blog post, we outlined how difficult it is to know how much Ireland is spending on the fight against HIV & AIDS.
Luckily, therefore, we have a functioning national parliament, and these recent parliamentary questions showed that, contrary to what we thought (and as reported in the Irish Aid annual reports), Ireland did indeed keep its promise to dedicate substantial amounts of money to the prevention, treatment and care for people affected by HIV & AIDS.
In an address to the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS in June 2006, then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern pledged that Ireland would increase spending on HIV and other communicable diseases to at least € 100 million per year. He went on to say that 20% of these resources would be spent on programmes that benefit children.
Last week, Ireland attended the 2011 version of the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS. And it is worthwhile quoting from Ireland’s formal contribution to the summit meeting:
“At the high level meeting five years ago, Ireland made a very specific commitment we pledged to spend over €100 million annually on HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases.
I am honoured to report that Ireland has kept that promise over the intervening years. Indeed we have more than fulfilled it. In the five years from 2006 to 2010 the Irish Government has spent a total of €695 million of our ODA funds in fighting AIDS and other communicable diseases.”
“Today, as most of you know, we are facing hugely challenging economic circumstances in Ireland. But we are determined to keep our shoulder to the wheel. In the current year, we will allocate just over €100 million euro of our ODA budget – that is over $ 145 million – to the fight against AIDS and communicable diseases.”
And that must be a good thing. As the Minister observed:
“This year marks 30 years of the global AIDS epidemic. Addressing HIV and AIDS, which has destroyed the lives of millions of men, women and children, is of fundamental importance to the reduction of global poverty. AIDS remains a leading cause of death in many developing countries.”
A few stats to finish off this article:
- In 30 years, AIDS has killed 25 million people. Today some 34 m. people are living with the virus and 7,000 new infections occur each day.
- A child is born with HIV nearly every minute.
- Over 22 million people in sub Saharan Africa are infected with HIV.
- Over six million people are on treatment today, because generic production of Anti-RetroViral drugs (ARVs) drove the price down by 99% since 2000.