President Clinton calls for achievements on HIV and AIDS not to be an excuse to stop now
Guest blog by Dr. Enida Friel, Oxfam Ireland.
On the third day of the AIDS conference taking place this week in Melbourne, Australia delegates including myself queued for an hour to get into the room where President Clinton was going to speak this afternoon. Then we waited patiently for another half an hour in our seats. The volunteers helping out with logistics at the conference were impressed with us. But it was worth it. President Clinton was inspirational as usual to the AIDS community.
He referred to the conference as ‘a movement’. He aknowledged the loss of life on the flight, where delegates on route to the conference (see this article), champions of the AIDS movement, died. He spoke of the interdependency in which we now live – something I thought of immeadiatly after hearing abour the crash in ‘far away’ Ukraine.
President Clinton then thanked all the delegates for their work who as he put it opposite to those who shot down that plane, ‘dedicate their lives to give lives’ (not take them away).
He thanked also those who had worked with and supported CHAI, Clinton’s Health and AIDS Initiative and Ireland among them. He spoke of the achievements made so far and said that ‘stepping up the pace’ is therefore the right theme for this conference.
But he also warned that achievements should not be an excuse to stop now.
I sat there proudly thinking of Ireland’s contribution to the AIDS response, proud of the work of Irish Aid and organisations like mine – Oxfam Ireland – and other member of Dóchas the association of Irish development and humanitarian NGOs. I also thought of our Dóchas HIV Working Group policy paper which we published last year ‘AIDS is not over’ and which has exactly that message.
But in an earlier paper also published by our group we noted with concern that spending, number of projects, activities etc of Dóchas member organisations on HIV and AIDS from 2006 to 2012 had tended to decline. For the first time this year Irish Aid’s annual report showed that spending on health and HIV and AIDS was below €100million/year- a commitment made by the previous government, but which Ministers of current government had commited to maintain.
This is no time for feeling sorry about ourselves however. There is still a lot to do and we need to work together ‘to finish the job’ as we say in our paper, because as President Clinton put it at the end of his speech: AIDS and our common humanity matters. And they matter a hell lot more – he also said than our differences.
- “AIDS Is Not Over” (Dóchas, 2013)
- Dóchas members’ responses to the AIDS pandemic (2012)
- NGO community mourns loss of key AIDS experts and activists (July 2014)
- “It’s a terrible blow for AIDS research – and not the first time lives have been needlessly lost” (July 2014)