DULCE MARIA PEREIRA
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TO THE COMMUNITY OF PORTUGUESE-SPEAKING COUNTRIES - CPSC
TO THE SPECIAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONCERNING HIV/AIDS
NEW YORK JUNE 25" TO 27th, 2001
President of the General Assembly,
Secretary General of the United Nations,
I begin my input by congratulating the Secretary General of the United Nations for the welcome initiative of convening this important special session of the General Assembly dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, formally established on July 177 1996, is an interstate organization that includes Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guine-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome e Principe and East Timor - as an observer until it will become a National State.
The goals of this session are currently of great concern to all countries, and I therefore believe it to be appropriate to congratulate the organizers for the relevance of the proposed theme.
The question of HIV/AIDS currently dominates the concerns of all Countries, International Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Religious Institutions and Civil Society in general, as the consequences of that epidemic are devastating and have a tendency to spread and to decimate our populations.
The appearance of the HIV/AIDS virus in the beginning of the 80's decade, wrote a dark page in the history of mankind. Since then, this pandemic has spread in a frightening way in all Countries, especially in those where the population lives in worse social and economic conditions.
Africa and Asia are the most affected continents. Because of the non-existence of effective methods of medication and control of the real level of the disease, it is known that the situation is certainly more serious than we are aware of.
We are above all concerned with the new cases of infection contracted through transfusion of contaminated blood and the "vertical transmission" between mother and child.
Effectively, AIDS is no longer a disease specific to certain "risk groups". Its social impact is today truly global affecting entire families; children that become orphans; young people in an active age that are stolen from the productive system; elderly people forced to face increased expenses in order to take care of their grand-children who are frequently also bearers of the virus, etc. It is obvious that all these situations have indisputable consequences on the economy of the countries, especially at the productivity level, and therefore in the GDP rates of the respective countries.
Because of this, the CPSC - Community of the Portuguese-Speaking Countries - the Executive Secretariat of which I have the honour of directing, has been concentrating efforts in order to fight this terrible affliction that affects its Member States in a very particular way.
In Mozambique, for example, the estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO) point to a predominance of HIV in approximately 14.5% of the population between 15 and 49 years of age. But also of concern is the propagation to both male and female children and to women of all ages. In ten years, it is predicted that the virus will affect circa 60% of the countries' population, which will reduce life expectancy of Mozambicans by approximately 15 years.
In Brazil, the registered cases of HIV carriers as at June 2000 were 536,000. In Portugal they reach 15,000, half of which are drug addicts.
In Guine-Bissau, we have one of the highest levels of prevalence of HIV2 (one of the virus forms) in the world.
In Angola, it is estimated that over the next eight years, one million new cases of HIV/AIDS will occur, which corresponds to a reduction of five years in life expectancy in this country.
In SaoTome e Principe, in spite of only 73 registered cases, an area of concern is the high risk of infection through blood transfusion, as the blood is not always tested due to the lack of reagents.
In Cabo Verde, the 749 cases registered in 1999 certainly do not reflect the true impact of the disease in that country.
Finally in East Timor, although being impossible at the moment to outline the map of propagation of this disease, it is considered that some of the traditional practices of the Timorese society, as well as the illiteracy, will be factors of vulnerability to the virus.
In order to face this scourge, the CPSC has brought forward a pilot project to support the fight against STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and HIV/AIDS, to be concluded in a Multilateral Agreement to be signed in July of this year.
Among the proposed measures that stand out are the development of strategies that make viable the production and the acquisition of anti-retroviral medication and of condoms by the member countries of the CPSC, as well as the application of means that guarantee the access of all the Member States to reagents and technologies for the diagnosis of the HIV virus and other STD infections.
Furthermore, the national information and prevention structures will also be reinforced, whilst at the same time, it is intended to define new strategies that promote a better knowledge of the diseases by the population.
We can summarize that the overall goal is the implementation of a support policy for the fight against HIV/AIDS, in addition to other sexually transmitted diseases. This has been defined as a priority in the declaration of the Heads of State of the member countries of the CPSC, contained in the Maputo Declaration, in order to obtain extensive coverage of the actions of prevention and follow up in the populations that form the Community of the Portuguese-Speaking Countries, having as its principal strategy the signing of the Multilateral Agreement between those countries.
It is worth mentioning that in December 2000, the Portuguese Speaking African Countries, as well as the Executive Secretariat of the CPSC, frequently undertook campaigns in order to ensure the prevailing concept that such societies have the basic right of access to medication in order to take care of its citizens living with HIV and so provide them with a better quality of life.
The President of the Republic of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, also current president of the CPSC has led a public march to the interior of his country.
The President of the Republic of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, having assumed the presidency of the PALOP - Portuguese Speaking African Countries - in April 2001, declared as a priority the control of the situation and the drastic reduction of the contamination in the countries of the community.
In 2000, the President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, had declared as a major task, the fight against HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
The President of the Republic of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, is personally coordinating a series of debates aimed at the rapid introduction of a range of national programmes and projects of co-operation for the fight against the epidemic.
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, of Brazil, has assumed the responsibility of guaranteeing technology transfer capabilities and for the fight against the epidemic in the Portuguese Speaking Countries and in particular, in the African Countries.
The Presidents of the Republics of Guine-Bissau, Sao Tome e Principe and Cabo Verde have shown themselves to be engaged in consolidating internal procedures
that will enable an adequate evaluation of and organization of the national problems.
Guine-Bissau and Sao Tome e Principe have signed a Co-operation Programme with Brazil for the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The situation in the Member States justifies the presence of the CPSC as a partner institution of the OAU (Organization of African Unity) in the execution of an African plan to fight against epidemics and infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.
The CPSC project was developed by the coordinators of the national programmes for the fight against HIV/AIDS of the Member States of the CPSC and has had the collaboration of specialists in family health and woman's health, of representatives of ONUSIDA (Combined Programme of the United Nations against HIV/AIDS), UNICEF - Brazil.
LADIES AND GENTLEMAN
We have the same conviction as the one already expressed by a brilliant citizen of our Community, Gra~a Machel, that part of the absurd amount of money used in wars and guns will have a far better use if reverted to saving lives and providing a better quality of life for our people.
We declare also our engagement to direct specific resources to the developing countries in order to enable them to carry out programmes of fighting and preventing HIV/AIDS. Such resources must be classified as soft loans, without having any impact on the domestic or international debt of the Countries.