Oxfam: nearly 7 million lives at risk because they aren’t getting life-saving drugs

Posted by Sarah Dransfield Senior Press Officer

30th Nov 2012

Bill Nighy says UK aid is crucial to help prevent people dying for as little as 23 pence a day

On the eve of World Aids Day, aid agency Oxfam is warning that the lives of almost 7 million people living with HIV are at risk because of a lack of funding to pay for their treatment.



Millions of HIV sufferers - including an estimated 1.4 million children - are missing out on life-saving drugs because of a massive shortfall of more than £1 billion in funding from international donors to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This lack of funding means that the number of patients receiving Antiretroviral therapy (ARV) cannot be increased, leaving nearly half of existing HIV sufferers in poor countries, as well as all newly infected patients, going without the medicines they desperately need.



The aid agency fears that the funding shortfall risks undermining the significant progress which has been made to halt the number of new infections worldwide, because people with HIV not taking ARVs are more likely to transmit the disease to others.



Oxfam ambassador Bill Nighy recently visited Malawi, to highlight the plight of people living with HIV in one of the poorest countries in the world.  An estimated 1 million people are living with the HIV virus in Malawi, but only a third are receiving free treatment, meaning 650,000 are still going without. This is despite the fact it costs just 23 pence a day to keep someone with the HIV virus alive by giving them treatment with ARVs.



Nighy said, "So many people aren't getting the medicines they need through no fault of their own, simply because they drew the short straw geographically. I met people who had been literally rescued from death by medicines which cost only 23 pence a day.



"I choose not to listen to the armchair cynics, whose philosophical opposition to aid bewilders me. I choose to listen to Mara Banda, a lady I met in Malawi who is living with the HIV virus, who told me quietly and simply that she would be dead if it were not for medicines paid for by our aid."



 Ahead of the Chancellor's Autumn statement next week (5th December), Oxfam has welcomed the UK government's commitment to meet its aid promises and is urging it to encourage other international donors to do so.



Oxfam Chief Executive, Barbara Stocking, said, "It is heartbreaking  that 7 million lives are still on the line today, when world leaders promised that they would ensure everyone in the world would have access to HIV prevention, care and treatment by 2010.  



"UK aid is helping to improve healthcare in countries like Malawi, but there is still a very long way to go and millions of lives globally are still at risk. Now more than ever it's crucial that international donors follow the UK's lead and increase their commitments to aid, which for many really does mean the difference between life and death."



/Ends



For more information please contact: Jon Slater, on 01865 472498, 07876 476 403 or email jslater@oxfam.org.uk



Notes to editors:



  • According to the latest research from UNAIDS 6.8 million people who are eligible for treatment are missing out because of lack of funding to pay for ARV medicines. 
  • Photograph Credit: Gus Gregory/Oxfam 
    Photograph Caption:
    Oxfam ambassador Bill Nighy visiting patients in the Paediatrics ward of Dowa district hospital in Malawi.

    Bill Nighy recently visited Malawi to highlight the plight of people living with HIV in one of the poorest countries in the world.  An estimated 1 million people are living with the HIV virus in Malawi, but only a third are receiving free treatment, meaning 650,000 are still going without. This is despite the fact it costs just 23 pence a day to keep someone with the HIV virus alive by giving them treatment. Nighy said, "So many people aren't getting the medicines they need through no fault of their own, simply because they drew the short straw geographically. I met people who had been literally rescued from death by medicines which cost only 23 pence a day."

Blog post written by Sarah Dransfield

Senior Press Officer

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