HC Deb 19 September 2002 vol 390 cc430-1W
Mr. Jim Murphy

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what actions Her Majesty's Government are undertaking to extend the availability of affordable anti-AIDS/HIV drugs in Southern Africa. [58914]

Clare Short

The Government are supporting an expanding programme to combat HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland). Part of this involves strengthening South Africa's lead on essential drugs for the South African Development Community, and strengthening the essential drugs programme in South Africa to improve legislation, procurement and pricing for HIV/AIDS and other drugs.

We are also taking action at a global level. The Working Group on Access to Medicines, which I chair, is working with the pharmaceutical industry, foundations, developing countries and the World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation and the European Commission to look at the feasibility of a global differential pricing mechanism for essential medicines. But the Government recognises that affordability is only one of four key factors that influence access to medicines. Others are the need for sustainable financing, the rational selection and use of existing drugs and reliable health and supply systems.

On sustainable financing we have pledged $200 million over 5 years to the Global Fund to Fight TB, AIDS and Malaria (GFATM), of which South Africa is already a beneficiary and to which other countries in the region have access. We have also committed over £1 billion since 1997 to strengthening developing countries' health systems, building their capacity both to deliver medicines to the poor and to make effective choices about the selection and use of drugs.