Five countries launch cheap AIDS drugs initiative

20th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, Sept 20, 2006 (AFP) - Brazil, Britain, Chile, France and Norway formally announced a plan to fund cheap drugs for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis for developing nations by raising taxes on airline tickets.

NEW YORK, Sept 20, 2006 (AFP) - Brazil, Britain, Chile, France and Norway formally announced a plan to fund cheap drugs for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis for developing nations by raising taxes on airline tickets.

The group will work with former US president Bill Clinton's foundation to negotiate discounts with drug companies and will channel their efforts through Unitaid, a new organization announced along with the plan on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"How can so many people go hungry in a world so full of riches," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said when the official announcement was made Tuesday. He said lack of drugs in developing nations "is another form of hunger."

French President Jacques Chirac said it was a "scandal that diseases plague the southern part of the world while medical drugs are in the northern part."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Unitaid brought hope to millions and was a brilliant example for the international community to follow.

Some 44 countries have agreed to contribute to Unitaid, 18 through airline ticket taxes. France, which introduced the tax in July, is expected to raise around 300 million dollars per year, with total amounts expected to grow to a billion dollars per year when all participating governments come aboard.

Several developed nations, including the United States, have voiced reservations about raising taxes on airline tickets when the airline industry is in financial straits.

The premises for Unitaid were first announced at the United Nations during the 2006 World Cup Soccer.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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