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[688] Please sign on open letter to the WTO.



Act Up-Paris 
- Please sign on open letter to the WTO. 
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On September 19, in Geneva, the World Trade organisations' (WTO) Council of TRIPs (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property rights) will bring together representatives of all the WTO signatory countries in order to work out a joint position in view of the November ministers' summit in Qatar, where the rules of world trade for the next few years - including medicines - will be settled. The Qatar summit next November, will be decisive for treatment access in developing countries. 
We urge you to join in the global mobilization for a settlement of the issues at the WTO in favor of access to treatment, by signing on this open letter of aids fight organisations to the WTO, to be offered for publication in international newspapers at soonest. 

Please confirm your signing on by e-mail to : gerrold@wanadoo.fr .

The world needs to hear that the demand for WTO to release access to drugs comes not just from governments, but above all from civil society and the people most concerned. 

Qatar: WTO must not be allowed to block access to treatment 

Between November 9 and November 13, in Qatar, the WTO will have to take a position on access to drugs for people in developing countries. African governments are asking for a moratorium on legal actions before the WTO against poor countries who use cheap drug copies to treat their sick. If the WTO refuses this request, it will have chosen its side: the side of rich countries. By strengthening the monopoly of giant drug companies, it will continue to block access to treatment. 

In spite of international mobilization, 90% of AIDS patients in the world still do not have access to medications necessary to their survival. Every day, thousands of people who could be treated die. 

In this context, the price of drugs plays a determining role. The multiplication of producers is thus essential in order to assure substantive access to the full range of anti-HIV/aids drugs for people with
Aids in poor countries. 

The international agreements on intellectual property authorize countries to produce or import copies of drugs. Some of the anti-HIV drugs are manufactured in certain countries, like India or Brazil, where they are sold at low prices - which in turn forces the pharmaceutical multinationals to align their prices. But the majority of developing countries, under Western pressure, still hesitate to authorize the production or import of copies of drugs, fearing economic reprisals. Thus, local production so far concerns only a very few special countries, and it is still impossible to find affordable versions of the most recent and effective HIV drugs, anywhere in the world. 

This is why the countries of the Organization of African Unity are demanding that in November, the WTO give official guarantees to countries that wish to resort to copies of drugs. 

The United States and the European Union are fiercely opposed to this measure and continue to impose on developing countries rules that are more restrictive than the WTO agreements. In spite of recent assurances by certain political leaders, the practical policy of these governments is to deny poorest countries, through covert economic threats, the right to implement legal provisions which they themselves use commonly in fields other than health (e.g. defence-grounded compulsory licenses). 
Thus, Western countries maintain a policy of medical exclusion against the millions of people with aids who live in poor countries. 

In Qatar, Trade Ministers of the world will ratify a statement that will specify the rules of international trade for the years to come. As regards access to treatment and health, this will be of considerable import. It is paramount that developing countries now be left to produce and distribute quality, affordable generic drugs in peace, without fear of economic retaliation. 

Beyond the moratorium required by the African countries, the rules of the game need to be changed. The WTO cannot be allowed to block access to health. 

Signatories:

WOFAK (Kenya), 
TAC (Afrique du Sud), 
ACT UP/East Bay (US), 
Réseau Santé Bouaké (Cote d'Ivoire), 
Health Gap Coalition (US), 
AIDS ACCESS Foundation (ACCESS) (Thailand), 
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (Canada), 
Act Up (France), 
NOLFOWOP (Cameroun), 
ALCS (Maroc), 
Mieux Vivre avec le Sida (Niger), 
RECAJELS (République Centrafricaine), 
ARAMBE / KAFU-ATA (Benin),
Médecins d'Afrique (Congo-Brazzaville), 
AAS (Burkina-Faso), 
AFSU (Cameroon),
etc.


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