Ladies and gentlemen,
If my statement will take five minutes to deliver, by the time I have finished another 50 human beings – 45 of which come from a developing country, one or two of which is a child under the age of fifteen – will have acquired aids. Only a fraction of them will have access to the treatment they sorely need.
In the very short time it will take me to deliver these few words, 10 children in Africa will succumb to malaria. Had effective and immediate treatment been available, five of them could have been saved.
This is a state of emergency, caught in two statistical snapshots.
The underlying idea of UNITAID is as simple as it is appealing:
· Firstly, to scale up access to treatment for hiv/aids, malaria and tuberculosis for people in developing countries by leveraging price reductions on quality drugs and diagnostics
· Secondly, to accelerate the pace at which these drugs and diagnostic tools are being made available to those for whom treatment remains in very short – or no – supply
These are truly life-saving tasks, addressing primary killer diseases.
UNITAID, still in its early stages, is now in the process of taking on a life of its own. Still, UNITAID is not a traditional donor mechanism. It’s a complementary part of an expanding family of innovative financing mechanisms for development, designed to back up efforts by existing international organizations and instruments. It is about countries in the north and south that generate resources and act together. It is about shared commitment. UNITAID is an exercise in building global solidarity.
What better cause to demonstrate results than through providing access to drugs critical for an effective response to global threats such as aids, and dealing with specific gaps such as drugs appropriate for children.
We are grateful for the willingness of the WHO to host UNITAID, both because Norway is a staunch supporter of the WHO’s work and because this host function links UNITAID up with the UN family of organizations. We are also grateful to all the other institutions and partners that have teamed up with this partnership, including UNICEF, the Global Fund, the Clinton Foundation Hiv/Aids Initiative (CHAI) and the Global Drug Facility/Green Light Committee. Without the partnerships with – and support from – these organizations, UNITAID actually would not be able to deliver on its mandate.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Wile stressing the innovative character of UNITAID, it’s well worth recalling that it remains an offspring from solidarity levies on plane travel, as introduced by most of the core countries behind this initiative.
Without the introduction of these levies, UNITAID would not have seen the light of day.
Impressed by the commitment to introduce such levies in a host of developing countries, we are hopeful that leading industrial countries will soon reconsider their positions and come forward.
This should not be taken to imply that ordinary budgetary contributions to UNITAID are in any way inferior to contributions from solidarity levies. In fact, so long as contributions are long-term, predictable and additional, UNITAID welcomes multi-year budgetary contributions.
But again, it’s important to remind ourselves of where UNITAID is coming from, the implication being as simple as this facility’s raison d’etre: For this initiative to save more lives, more countries should introduce solidarity levies on aviation, revenues from which should be pooled in this innovative partnership.
It is becoming more and more apparent that international aviation is under-taxed. While we fix this problem – which Norway believes the international community eventually will – let’s make sure to put the funds generated to good use, for the common good. Although there will be a whole lot of worthy causes to support, some perhaps more immediately linked to the object of taxation, it’s hard to think of a much better purpose than a facility such as UNITAID.
In 2007 Norway supports UNITAID with a sum corresponding to 23 million dollars, all of which are proceeds from our current CO2 tax on aviation, all of which has been paid in – and all of which represents a net increase in our financial support to developing countries.
You can expect major Norwegian contributions in years to come.
Norway is committed to UNITAID over the long haul.
And should additional countries want to opt in, the door to this promising partnership is wide open.
Thank you very much.