Statement by H.E. Mr. Eisuke Hinode
Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan
and Head of the Delegation of Japan
at the 59th Session (Phase2) of ESCAP
September 1, 2003, Bangkok, Thailand
Mr. Chairman, Executive Secretary Dr. Kim, distinguished representatives of member countries, ladies and gentlemen:
On behalf of the government and people of Japan, I would like to express my deep respect for Hon. Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok who has been playing an invaluable role as a Chairman of this Session. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the government and people of the Kingdom of Thailand, which is providing the venue for the 59th Session of ESCAP.
Threat of HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific
The rapid spread of HIV/AIDS poses a threat to human security and greatly hinders the efforts of developing countries to reduce poverty and pursue social and economic development. While HIV/AIDS is undoubtedly most serious in Africa, HIV infection rates in Asia and the Pacific have also been rising in recent years, triggering many tragedies including breakdowns of families and communities. Ever since the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in 2000, an increasing amount of interest has been shown in regional cooperation on HIV/AIDS control. This Session, which will focus specifically on HIV/AIDS, is indeed an important and well-timed opportunity to ponder how to deal effectively and appropriately with this epidemic by mobilizing the wisdom and available resources that Asia and the Pacific collectively possess.
The G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit Meeting held in July 2000 and chaired by Japan took up the issue of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, as one of its major themes, for the first time. Participants in the Summit agreed to accelerate, on an urgent basis, international efforts to fight infectious diseases. On that occasion, the Government of Japan announced the "Okinawa Infectious Disease Initiative," which committed Japan to extending support to developing countries for measures against HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, polio, and parasitic diseases, with the target of allocating a total of US$ 3 billion over a period of five years starting from the year 2000. Approximately US$ 1.8 billion of support measures have already been decided or implemented for the first two years (FY2000-2001). Further, in December 2000, Japan hosted the Okinawa International Conference on Infectious Diseases, with the participation of representatives from G8 countries, developing countries, international organizations, and civil society. The Conference adopted an action plan that gave concrete form to the notion of "partnership" proclaimed in the communiqué of the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit.
Japan is very pleased and honoured to have been able to take a leadership role in providing the impetus for the international community to work together to combat infectious diseases around the world. These efforts culminated, through a United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS held in June 2001, in the launching of a Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, announced on the occasion of the Genoa Summit. This Fund was established in January 2002 and is expected to play an important role in controlling these three major infectious diseases at the global level. Japan announced its intention to commit US$ 200 million to the Fund, and as a Board Member of the Fund it has done its utmost to reflect the voices of Asia and the Pacific appropriately in the activities of the Fund.
Priorities in HIV/AIDS control
As one of the largest donors of assistance to developing countries in the world, Japan has for some time now placed great importance on cooperation in the area of infectious diseases, and has provided positive support to developing countries in their efforts to take countermeasures against HIV/AIDS. On the basis of this experience, I would like to point out the following approaches that are of particular importance for ESCAP in the formulation and undertaking of HIV/AIDS control projects in the future.
First of all, in effective measures to control the epidemic, there has to be an optimum balance of three elements: "prevention", "treatment," and "care." Above all, as you will see in the document distributed, prevention is the approach that is the surest and the most effective. In light of the significant impact of the disease on the future of afflicted countries, the crucial and furthermore cost-effective importance of prevention, cannot be overemphasized. While a wide range of preventive measures are urgently needed, efforts to prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS among high-risk groups and the younger generation are especially necessary, and educational activities to increase their awareness of the problem are thus extremely important. In addition, measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission, and to ensure a good supply of safe blood, are also required.
We welcome the decision of the WTO's General Council taken the day before yesterday, improving access to anti-retroviral drugs in developing countries. This is very gratifying for us, as we have been actively engaged in discussions in international forums. Strengthening support for the fostering of human resources and the improvement of medical infrastructure in developing countries are important. Japan, through its ODA programs, has been making contributions in the improvement of health systems appropriate to the situation of each developing country, and especially the strengthening of monitoring and testing resources both at the start and during the process of treatment. Care for infected persons, patients and AIDS orphans is yet another important challenge.
And whether we are talking about "prevention," "treatment," or "care," it will be measures taken at the community level that are most effective. I believe that with the shared understanding that poverty is hotbed of the spread of HIV/AIDS, we should integrate measures against HIV/AIDS into comprehensive programs that lead to anti-drug and prostitution measures, community development and re-invigoration.
Second, it will be essential for every country in the region to take its own autonomous measures against HIV/AIDS. Fortunately, several Asian and Pacific countries have been actively tackling the epidemic, and have gained a certain measure of successful results. In this context, the most effective and sustainable way of combating the epidemic will be for all countries in the region that have experience of combating the spread of HIV/AIDS to share their experiences and good practices with one another. As one method of combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, I would like to propose the active promotion of South-South cooperation. It will be vital for donor countries, international organizations and civil society to work in a collaborative way to support such South-South cooperation.
Third, it goes without saying that it will be important for donor countries, developing countries, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector (foundations and enterprises) to build partnerships to work toward the common goal of HIV/AIDS control not only at the national level, but also at the regional and global levels. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was established precisely with a view to enabling such partnerships. Each country is advised to make the most of this Fund for its HIV/AIDS control by positively applying for projects.
In the fight against HIV/AIDS, we should never forget that the concept of "human security" concerns individual human beings. We have to remember that our stance is one of protecting individual human beings from the threat of HIV/AIDS as well as aiming to empower them as individual human beings.
Japan's response to HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific region
The Government of Japan is determined to steadily implement the "Okinawa Infectious Disease Initiative" by responding appropriately to the needs of developing countries, and to make active and positive use of this initiative for Asia and the Pacific. Japan is determined to continue all possible cooperation with the projects in this area run under the auspices of ESCAP, which is the sole largest relevant organization in Asia and the Pacific.
Japan's determination on HIV/AIDS issue
Given the recent severe economic and fiscal situation in Japan, the need for understanding and support from the Japanese people in the dispensation of ODA has become ever more important. Japan has been implementing specific measures for ODA reform under three pillars: "transparency," "efficiency," and "public participation." Japan sincerely hopes that ESCAP and its secretariat will continue to devote their utmost efforts to effectively utilizing valuable financial and human resources and to promoting result-oriented projects.
I would like to end by re-emphasizing the determination of the Government of Japan to actively cooperate with the private sector in addressing the problem of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, as an important pillar of its assistance policy so that developing countries can break the vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS and poverty, and push forward with their economic development.
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