WHO’s 3 by 5 Initiative ‘Last Chance To Avoid Global Catastrophe,’ Opinion Piece Says
The World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative could "represent our last chance to avoid a global catastrophe" in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Chris Green, an AIDS treatment educator with the Spiritia Foundation, writes in a Jakarta Post opinion piece (Green, Jakarta Post, 2/22). WHO's $5.5 billion plan, which aims to treat three million HIV-positive people by 2005, calls for training 100,000 health care workers, refocusing 10,000 clinics in developing countries to treat HIV/AIDS and using some common antiretroviral drug combinations. However, the plan does not provide the drugs or subsidize their cost (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/17). According to Green, Indonesian Minister of Health Achmad Sujudi has accepted WHO's challenge and has pledged to provide treatment for 10,000 patients next year, with an interim target of 5,000 HIV patients by the end of this year. However, there are "many challenges" to meeting these goals, according to Green. Although the Ministry of Health has said it will provide $1.18 million this year for the program, that amount of money will pay for antiretroviral drugs for fewer than 2,500 people, Green says. Still, Green says that funding could be the "easiest problem to solve," compared with the challenge of training a "huge" number of health care providers to "administer and monitor" treatment, obtaining "constant" supplies of antiretrovirals and ensuring treatment adherence. The "most challenging task" could be identifying the 10,000 people to receive treatment because fewer than 5,000 Indonesians are aware that they are HIV-positive, although current estimates indicate that there are at least 130,000 HIV-positive people in the country, according to Green. Green concludes that it may be "easy to dismiss 3 by 5 as yet another 'pie in the sky'" because "[n]othing on this scale has ever been attempted before," but "we must strive to achieve these minimum humanitarian goals" (Jakarta Post, 2/22).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.