Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa
Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations
before the 26th Special Session of the General Assembly On HIV/AIDS
27 June 2001
United Nations, New York
On behalf of my delegation, it is an honor for me to address the Assembly during this important Special Session to review the HIV/AIDS crisis, and to discuss concrete measures that must be taken to combat it and prevent its spread.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has developed into one of the most devastating phenomena's of the 21s' Century. Its impact and the challenges it has presented are global, affecting the entire international community. It is an epidemic whose impact has been felt far beyond the health sector as it has undermined social and economic development worldwide, affecting all strata of society.
By the end of the year 2000, more than 36 million people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Of these 36 million, 95% of those infected live in the developing countries of the world. The majority of those infected are living on the continent of Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. As the region most severely impacted by this deadly disease, Africa must receive urgent and concerted attention and assistance in the struggle to combat the HIV/AIDS virus, which has resulted in the death of a vast number of people.
The provision of emergency and continuous assistance is needed both with regard to treating infected persons and to halting the continuous spread of this deadly disease. We cannot continue this pattern of ignoring this problem facing many States. In this respect, we would like to express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the States most impacted, and we call for an increase in support for all of the efforts exerted to assist them in all fields in this difficult battle against the HIV/AIDS virus.
Poverty, discrimination, stigma, crises and conflict are among the most prominent factors that contribute to the exacerbation of the spread of this epidemic. Thus, these factors should be addressed in a serious and thorough manner. In this regard, it is clear that respect for human rights and for international humanitarian law would contribute significantly to promoting conditions for reducing vulnerability to HIV/AIDS within societies.
Furthermore, a strong commitment with appropriate and urgent action is required to combat and prevent the fast spread of this lethal epidemic. The development of effective, preventive strategies and an increase in the availability of resources, whether human, medical, financial or technical, are needed. This should be coupled with strong partnerships involving governments, the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and other relevant institutions. The United Nations Secretary-General's initiative: "A Call For Action", in which he proposes the establishment of a global fund to fight HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, is a concrete and effective measure in the implementation of the goals and objectives of the Special Session. It will mitigate the impact of this deadly disease substantially, mainly in Africa.
In Palestine we have registered a relatively small number of cases of the HIV virus, nevertheless, we have been giving the necessary attention in dealing with this serious disease. The Palestinian Ministry of Health has instituted policies and measures to combat and prevent the spread of the HIV virus, including treatment consisting of full free care for the sick, given the small number of cases. In regard to prevention measures, the Ministry has conducted health education and has created awareness in schools, universities, labs and dental clinics as well as for doctors working in both the governmental and private sectors.
In conclusion, the delegation of Palestine wishes
to express its support for the convening of this Special Session to discuss
a very serious and critical issue, in which all members of the international
community share deep concern. It is our strong hope that this Special Session
will be a pivotal turning point in the international community's fight
against HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, it is our hope that the immediate future
will bring increased cooperation and coordination among developed and developing
nations, in order to combat and ultimately eliminate this deadly disease.