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Update on the EC Programme for Action - Accelerated action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

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Update on the EC Programme for Action - Accelerated action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

The Commission assesses progress on the implementation of the Programme for Action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis adopted in February 2001. It also sets out the outstanding policy issues and future challenges. The PfA has three major objectives: to increase the impact of existing interventions, increase the affordability of key pharmaceuticals, and encourage research in and development of specific global public goods to tackle these diseases.


Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 26 February 2003. Update on the EC Programme for Action - Accelerated action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the context of poverty reduction - Outstanding policy issues and future challenges [COM(2003) 93 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


The Commission assesses progress on the implementation of the Programme for Action (PfA) on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis adopted in February 2001. The results obtained in the three main areas identified (increasing the impact of existing interventions, increasing the affordability of key pharmaceuticals and encouraging research and development) are reviewed:

Impact of existing actions

Progress has been limited in this area. The number of people suffering from or infected with the three diseases is rising constantly.

In spite of unanimous agreement on the urgent need to combat these diseases, there is still no large-scale collective action, either at national or international level. Through its PfA, however, the Commission, with the help of its partners, has begun to tackle the problem, bringing the diseases to greater prominence and highlighting the need to work together to achieve objectives.

The emphasis remains on increasing spending on social structures, which are fundamental in ensuring the effectiveness of the action undertaken.

Increasing affordability of pharmaceuticals

The Communication notes that the Commission's strategy of introducing tiered pricing as the norm for the poorest countries has received widespread support and is being applied by some manufacturers selling to developing countries. Also, a Commission regulation aiming to prevent trade diversion into the European Union of certain key pharmaceuticals was adopted in May 2003.

Customs and other duties levied by exporting countries were identified as a serious obstacle to accessing affordable medicines and should be abolished. The EU will strive to achieve this end.

During the long series of negotiations within the WTO which led to the Doha Declaration on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the EU fought to ensure that the protection of intellectual property be used to benefit public health. The problems encountered by those WTO members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector with regard to making effective use of compulsory licensing are still unresolved. The EU remains anxious to find a sustainable, multilateral solution to this problem as soon as possible.

Research and development

The Commission has approved a considerable increase in EU research funding and changes in the way it is allocated. For the first time, Europe will be able to speak and act as a single unit on research matters at an international level.

There has been a sizeable increase in the resources allocated to basic preclinical and clinical research on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the Sixth Framework Programme. The EU Member States, developing countries and other donors are combining their efforts in the field in an integrated European research programme to combat the three poverty diseases. The Commission intends to invest EUR 200 million in this initiative, called the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). The Commission will also invest an additional EUR 200 million in more basic research.


In the Commission's opinion, the PfA remains a comprehensive, forward-looking and coherent EU policy framework aimed at making a significant contribution towards improved country, regional and global action against the three communicable diseases.

The updated report concludes that the PfA has shown that strong EU intervention is essential and that by following this programme the EU's positions on targeted action against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis have been considerably strengthened at a global level.

Nonetheless, additional efforts are required to ensure periodic, structured dialogue with developing countries and the Communication proposes, amongst other things, creating a Stakeholders' Forum on Communicable Diseases in the Context of Poverty Reduction.


Commission communication to the Council and European Parliament - A coherent European Policy Framework for External Action to Confront HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis - [COM(2004) 726 final - not published in the Official Journal]. This communication proposes an overall policy framework to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, while stressing the growing impact of these diseases on human security and human rights. The spread of the three diseases among refugees and people living in conflict situations remains a challenge. More countries need to develop a policy mix integrating prevention, care and treatment. The Commission underlines that at country level the focus should be on building capacity and increasing sustainable funding support. It also advocates developing safe and affordable pharmaceutical products and new tools and types of intervention (such as vaccines), strengthening partnerships and building up regulatory capacity in developing countries. The Commission will maintain its firm stance on its commitments regarding the Millennium Development Goals, the Cairo agenda, the Beijing declaration, human rights and human security

Last updated: 13.12.2005