Published: 7th June 2006
The UK's largest organisation of Christian doctors has accused the UN of failing to deliver for the world's poor in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Last week (May 31 – June 2), the United Nations General Assembly sat for only the second time in its history to reach an agreement on a global response to HIV & AIDS. Leaders from over 120 nations, and 800 delegates from civil society and faith groups from around the globe met in New York to debate the issues.
Steve Fouch, CMF's Allied Professions Secretary and the Secretary of the UK Christian HIV & AIDS Alliance, who attended the meeting as an official delegate, said “This was a huge opportunity for the nations of world to take decisive action to fight the biggest threat to health, well being and prosperity affecting our world today. But the final declaration, released on Friday June 2, has fallen short of all we had hoped for.
“The UN did take some steps in the right direction, including a commitment to allowing some access to cheap antiretroviral drugs for the poor, a recognition of the role of sexual abstinence and fidelity programmes within a wider prevention strategy, and some recognition of the rights of women and girls. However, it significantly failed to set any real targets or commitments to funding the treatment and prevention of HIV infection. Nor did it acknowledge that groups such as homosexual men, commercial sex workers and intravenous dugs users are particularly vulnerable to HIV and need specific strategies aimed at their needs.
“Furthermore, much of language about protecting the rights of girls and women is far weaker than we would have hoped, allowing some countries to ignore the needs of the group most vulnerable to HIV infection.
“The world had an historic opportunity to show that it cared and could make a difference but largely failed to do so.”
According to some estimates, nearly 60% of all care for those affected by HIV in Southern and Eastern Africa (the region of the world most affected by HIV & AIDS) is delivered by the church and Christian organisations. A significant number of faith based groups met with the UN to speak up on behalf of the communities they care for last week. The involvement of faith groups at this level has been increasing, but was at an unprecedented level at this meeting.
Mr Fouch added, “The church will continue to fill the gaps in care and prevention that governments and international bodies are failing to address, and we will hold those bodies to account, because we can see what is happening on the ground. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of this declaration it is we, and all those affected by this virus and caring for those affected, who will be encouraging world leaders to put this declaration into action."
Christian HIV/AIDS Alliance (CHAA) is a network of Christian agencies, churches and individuals praying and working together to serve and empower those affected by HIV/AIDS. CMF is active member of CHAA.
We recognise the invaluable part that the Christian community has to play in bringing life in the face of death and hope in the face of despair, through servant-hearted advocacy and action. For more information visit www.chaa.info.
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.