Monday, December 21, 2009

HIV/Aids top crises list

NEW YORK - DWINDLING funding for HIV/AIDS threatens to leave an estimated 10 million infected people without treatment in the developing world, making it one of 2009's Top 10 humanitarian crises, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Other crises that made the list released by the medical humanitarian group on Monday include: governments blocking access to lifesaving assistance in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Sudan; a lack of respect for civilian safety and aid efforts in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia; and inadequate international funds to fight neglected diseases and malnutrition.

Sophie Delaunay, executive director of Doctors Without Borders' US section, said the group wanted to alert policy makers not to let down their guard in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which continues to be a crisis despite the advent of life-sustaining treatment. 'When there are concerning signs of a retreat for access to treatment, it's important to state that HIV/AIDS is an emergency,' Ms Delaunay said.

The international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF for its French name 'Medecins Sans Frontieres,' began issuing its annual list in 1998 after a devastating famine in southern Sudan went largely unnoticed by the US media. The list, which does not rank the crises by order of importance, seeks to foster greater awareness of crises that may not receive adequate attention in the press.

Since pledging to support universal AIDS treatment coverage by 2010 at the G8 Summit in Scotland in 2005, many countries, including the United States, have announced plan to reduce or limit funding, she said.

'In some countries doctors are turning patients away, advised to wait until other patients die. What's going to happen is that patients are going to show up at the door of our clinics and there is a high possibility of us getting overwhelmed,' Ms Delaunay warned. -- AP

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