CAMEROON

STATEMENT

BY

HIS EXCELLENCY PETER MAFANY MUSONGE,
PRIME MINISTER, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT,
REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, REPRESENTING THE HEAD OF STATE,
HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL BIYA

AT THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HIV/AIDS

NEW YORK
26TH JUNE, 2001

Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very privileged to represent the Head of State of the Republic of Cameroon, His Excellency Paul Biya, at this special session of the United Nations devoted to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

As you all know, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is today, by its magnitude, the greatest threat to mankind. It is one of the most formidable challenges to human intelligence as it has defied a solution after more than 20 years of brain-racking research.

Given this situation, it has become imperative for the international community to be mobilized in order to make concrete commitments to check this disaster.

With 25 million out of the 37 million persons infected so far worldwide, Africa is the hardest hit continent. Today, AIDS is no longer a mere public health problem. It has become a genuine development problem which not only thrives on poverty, but also exacerbates it, threatening to plunge the continent into misery and utter despair.

Consequently, the time has come to act rapidly and effectively at the global, regional and national levels.  Like many other African countries south of the Sahara, Cameroon, with close to one million persons infected, or a prevalence rate of 11%, is also seriously affected by the AIDS pandemic.

The seriousness of the situation led the government of Cameroon to formulate and adopt a national strategic plan to fight HIV/AIDS. This plan involves all sectors of activity and is reinforced by a communication and social mobilization plan designed for different audiences.

This programme which I had the privilege to launch in September 2000 on behalf of the President of the Republic, H. E. Paul Biya, immediately became operational, testifying to the commitment of the highest authorities of the State to resolutely combat HIV/AIDS.

On this basis, our emergency plan which is currently being implemented comprises various activities, notably:

- information, social mobilization and prevention campaigns;
- voluntary screening;
- prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV;
- support and management of patients;
- various research; activities aimed at reinforcing local and multi-sectoral responses in the urban and rural areas;
This programme has received among others, the technical and financial support of the United Nations System through UNAIDS and a loan of 50 million US dollars from the International Development Agency (IDA) under the Multi-Country Aids Programme (MAP).

Let me avail myself of this opportunity to thank, on behalf of H.E. the President of the Republic of Cameroon, the international community for this very appreciable support that is complementary to our own resources allocated for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. Moreover, resources resulting from debt relief within the framework of the HIPC Initiative, have been allocated as a matter of priority to this fight.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Republic of Cameroon shares the concerns of other developing countries, relating notably to the urgent need to increase funding and means of fighting HIV/AIDS as well as access by the poor to health care and drugs.

With regard to these two issues, Cameroon unreservedly supports the Abuja Declaration, welcomes with hope the setting up of a global fund for the fight against HIV/AIDS and salutes, here and now, all countries which have already announced their contributions to that fund.

Furthermore, Cameroon advocates for a significant drop in the prices of drugs, especially anti-retroviral drugs. In this regard, it is necessary to, among other things, adopt a positive interpretation of the Trade Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

In this way, Cameroon, Africa and the rest of the world will together rekindle the hope of facing the challenge of HIV/AIDS, a challenge, which we must absolutely overcome for the harmonious development of the world.

I thank you for your kind attention.