Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cuba, Ambassador Abelardo Moreno, at the plenary meeting of the General Assembly 63th session, on agenda item 41 entitled “Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS”. New York, 16 June 2009.
Today, the world faces the gravest international economic and financial crisis threatening to become a disaster from the human and developmental point of view, and which is inevitably related to the issue we address today. This crisis is the result of the unjust international economic and financial order, and its effects and characteristics made clear that it has not been caused by us, the most affected countries.
However, we can safely say the efforts of the countries of the South to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including Health-related goals, will be virtually void despite the political will to meet them. Before the crisis, there were millions of sick, starving and illiterate people in the world. Today, this figure threatens to increase as a result of the combination of the financial and food crisis, as well as the challenges of climate change.
In spite of the progress made to face the pandemic of HIV/AIDS, the goal to ensure universal access to comprehensive prevention programs and to services of treatment, care and support by 2010 will be hard to meet by many countries of the South, particularly the poorest.
More than two thirds of the people suffering from HIV/AIDS worldwide live in the African continent. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected region with 4.7 million people with the disease, and only one fourth of the people needing antiretroviral treatment have access to it.
Given the international panorama, Cuba considers important to reinforce the HIV/AIDS prevention strategy which involves sex education in schools and the mass media, as an essential part of it.
Education and prevention programs for youths to promote a healthy and responsible sexuality are crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It has been scientifically proved, especially in our region, that the sexual abstinence strategy is not effective to prevent HIV/AIDS.
Cuba believes the fullest enjoyment of a good physical and mental health is a fundamental human right and, consequently, gives great importance to the fight against HIV/AIDS and the fight against discrimination.
The peculiarities of the Cuban health system, marked by its universality, free of charge character and accessibility for all, as well as the society organizational structure and the Multisectorial HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program, guarantee the access to medical services and antiretroviral treatment by 100 % of the population, and the development of surveillance interventions. In addition, the right to work, full salary, differentiated food and the full exercise of all social and political rights are ensured.
We have managed to contain the pandemic despite the fierce economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America that have brought about terrible consequences to the health of the Cuban people, and despite our limited access to new medicines and technologies produced by US companies or their branches in third countries.
Cuba has produced 6 antiretroviral medicaments and continues researching to obtain more effective medicaments and a vaccine. From 1986 to 31 May, 2009, 11 208 cases have been diagnosed as HIV positive, 4 528 of whom suffer from AIDS and receive treatment and medical care. Also, we have count on the cooperation of the United Nations and other organizations which have contributed to strengthen the way our country faces the pandemic.
Likewise, Cuba has offered its modest support to other Third World peoples in terms of health care. More than 52 thousand youths from 132 countries and 5 overseas territories have studied and graduated in Cuba mainly in the health sector; 34 thousand of them come from the African continent. Over 38 thousand Cuban health professionals and technicians collaborate in 73 countries.
With the millions of dollars allocated to the arms industry and to bail big companies out of bankruptcy, we could eliminate hunger, pandemics like HIV/AIDS, as well other diseases and calamities in the world. We, the countries of the South, do not need promises but concrete actions. International solidarity instead of competition, social justice instead of wars, should be the governing principles of a peace system and a just and equitable international order where all of us can live with harmony and development.