ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN NETHERLANDS, 4 - 6 APRIL
The Secretary-General arrived in Amsterdam on 4 April. The following morning, he met with the chief executive officers and senior officials of six of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies (Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxo Smith Kline, Hoffman-La Roche, and Pfizer). They discussed what further steps needed to be taken to improve access to better health care, HIV medicines and HIV-related medicines for developing countries, as part of further action to combat AIDS, including prevention, education and research.
The Secretary-General was joined by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization(WHO), and Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
After the meeting, which took place at the invitation of the Secretary-General and lasted for over three hours, the Secretary-General made a statement (Press Release SG/SM/7764). In the statement, he said that the companies had agreed to the following three items:
-- To continue and accelerate reducing prices substantially, with a special emphasis on the least developed countries, particularly in Africa;
-- To continue to offer affordable medicines to other developing countries, on a country-by-country basis; and
-- To recognize the need to consider increased access to HIV/AIDS medicine by qualified non-governmental organizations and appropriate companies offering health care to employees and local communities in these nations.
The Secretary-General also said that the expertise of all sectors of society had to be harnessed in the fight against AIDS. He noted the crucial role played by the pharmaceutical industry and applauded contributions by non-governmental organizations which, he said "are our vital partners in this fight".
He mentioned that intellectual property protection was the key to bringing forward new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics for the world's poorest people. He also said that the United Nations fully supported the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which incorporated safeguards within it.
The Secretary-General also stated that "the price of drugs is only one of the issues that has to be addressed" and called for a "major mobilization of political will and significant additional funding to enable a dramatic leap forward in prevention education, care and treatment."
He said that he intended to meet periodically with the pharmaceutical executives to review the progress made.
In the evening, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and His Royal Highness Prince Claus of the Netherlands hosted a working dinner for the Secretary-General in The Hague, where they discussed peacekeeping, in particular the Ethiopia-Eritrea mission. Also present were Prime Minister Wim Kok, Foreign Minister Jozias Van Aartsen and Gilbert Guillaume, President of the International Court of Justice.
The following day, 6 April, the Secretary-General flew back to New York.
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