International Conference on Infectious Disease Opens in Japan
A two-day international conference on infectious diseases opened today in Okinawa, Japan, with more than 100 participants, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports. Participants in the conference, which will focus on methods for preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and polio, include "high-level" officials from the European Commission, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda, Zambia and the G8 countries, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The conference takes place as a "follow up" to an agreement reached by the G8 countries at July's Okinawa G8 summit to "tackle" infectious diseases through mobilizing "financial resources" and setting a goal of achieving 25% reduction by 2010 in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in 15- to 25-year-olds. Prior to the meeting, Japan announced plans to donate $3 billion to battle infectious diseases in developing countries over the next five years, and to create a $10 million United Nations fund to aid non-government organizations providing medical support in "poor countries." G8 countries aim to have the conference become a "new international framework" for combating infectious diseases (Deutsche Press-Agentur, 12/7).
Doctors Without Borders Addresses Expensive Medications
At the conference today, the international relief organization Doctors Without Borders stressed the importance of reducing the costs of medications used in the treatment of infectious diseases. "Tough political choices will have to be made at Okinawa to ensure that millions of people are not just left to die because drugs are too expensive," Dr. Bernard Pecoul, director of Doctors Without Border's Access to Essential Medicines campaign, said. Pecoul added that any donated public funds would "make a far greater impact" if medications were less expensive. "Okinawa will confirm if the G8 is up to the challenge," he said. Over 30 organizations, including the WHO, World Bank, UNICEF and UNESCO, are also in attendance at the conference (Agence France-Presse, 12/7).