JUNE 27, 2001

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor for me to address this Special Session on HIV/AIDS on behalf of the Albanian Government. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the United Nations Secretary General for convening this very important meeting. His report gives us very important recommendations for a strong and determined global response against HIV/AIDS.

The participation of so many delegations in this session testifies of the challenge that our countries face today, that of HIV/AIDS which could not be met without joint efforts and adequate resources at the national and international level.

Mr. President,

After the fall of the totalitarian system in Albania in 1992, Albania joined other countries of the region in building democracy and free market economy. These changes opened the country and gave the Albanians the opportunity to freely move abroad. Since then, our country is cooping with a lot of economical challenges and social problems common to a free society.
The first two HIV/AIDS cases were diagnosed and reported in Albania in 1993. The total number of AIDS cases registered between 1993 - 2000 amounts to 52. Thus, Albania is among the countries with a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS with a tendency of growth. This is based on the following factors:

To deal with this situation, the Albanian Government has made serious efforts to have in place a national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS and to grow the public awareness on this issue. This strategy aims at creating a strong partnership between the Ministry of Health and non-governmental institutions with the technical and financial support of the international specialized organizations.

In this context, there have been held two National Conferences on "Policies of Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Albania" which have addressed this problem and issued a series of practical guidelines. The Albanian Ministry of Health with assistance of World Health Organization has established the National Program of HIV/AIDS as well as a network of Laboratories and Rapid Test Centers nationwide.

The main objectives of this National Program are:

The implementation of these objectives is based on the strategic elements of political commitment, preventive measures, surveying, monitoring and research treatment, health care and support for those living with the infection The cooperation with the WHO and the National Program has helped in having the necessary infrastructure to diagnose HIV/AIDS and in giving the proper treatment to the infected persons.

Recently, the Albanian Parliament has adopted the law on "Preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS infections in the Republic of Albania". Under this law, a National Inter-Ministerial Committee has been established chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister of Albania. This Committee has included a Group of experts.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I would like to express the support of the Albanian Government for the establishment of global HIV/AIDS and Health Fund proposed by the Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan. We believe that the Declaration of Commitment that soon will be adopted by this august body paves the way towards having globally more resources, solidarity, responsibility and cooperation in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Thank You!