Vatican discusses HIV/AIDS at UN Human Rights Council

2016-03-11 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday called for more attention to the systemic obstacles that prevent people living with HIV and AIDS from enjoying fully their right to health care, treatment, and support.

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, represented by Chargé d’Affaires Msgr. Richard Gyhra, gave the statement at a meeting at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Among the challenges experienced by Member States is the predominant emphasis on profitability of medicines and diagnostic tools, resulting in prohibitive price structures,” Msgr. Gyhra said. “Furthermore, insufficient attention has been given to research and development of ‘child friendly’ medications and diagnostic tools for use by children living in low-income and low technology settings.”

 

The full text of Msgr. Gyhra’s intervention is below

 

Statement by Msgr. Richard Gyhra, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

at the 31st Session of the Human Rights

Panel discussion on the progress in and challenges of addressing human rights issues in the context of efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030

Geneva, 11 March 2016

 

Mr. President,

My Delegation wishes to thank you and the Members of this Council for convening the current Panel Discussion to address the human rights issues related the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For more than thirty years, it has caused death and untold suffering for millions of children and adults in the prime of their lives, left millions more children orphaned, and brought significant numbers of families and local communities to the point of economic, emotional, and social collapse.

As we consider the human rights implications of the HIV pandemic, my Delegation repeats its call for more attention to the systemic obstacles that prevent people living with HIV and AIDS from enjoying fully their right to health care, treatment, and support. As the members of this Council already are well aware, the right to health is recognized as a fundamental right by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).

The Declaration foresees the right to health and medical care within the more general rubric of the right “to enjoy an adequate standard of living.”1 However, Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), directly recognizes the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.2 Among the minimum requirements for States to ensure these conditions, the Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, in its General Comment No. 14,3 moreover, identified: the right of access to health care in a non-discriminatory way; the supply of essential drugs; an equitable distribution of benefits and health services; and adoption of national strategies to prevent and combat epidemics.

Notwithstanding this legal framework and all the positive initiatives implemented over the last decade for ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there is still much to be done to reach our goal. Among the challenges experienced by Member States is the predominant emphasis on profitability of medicines and diagnostic tools, resulting in prohibitive price structures. Another obstacle is the categorization of low, middle and high-income countries based exclusively on Gross National Income, which, consequently, does not take into account the overall health care burden and other economic and social determinants of health. Furthermore, insufficient attention has been given to research and development of “child friendly” medications and diagnostic tools for use by children living in low-income and low technology settings. On the positive side, the success that the WTO TRIPs Council had last November, in pushing for a waiver extension, thus ensuring maximum flexibility in the patenting of pharmaceutical products until at least 2033 for LDCs represents a solid foundation on which we can continue to build.

Mr. President, I would like to conclude by citing Pope Francis: “Interdependence and the integration of economies should not bear the least detriment to existing systems of health care and social security; instead, they should promote their creation and good functioning. Certain health issues… require urgent political attention, above and beyond all other commercial or political interests.”4

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

1 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf

2 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm

3 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Twenty-second session, Geneva, 25 April-12 May 2000, E/C.12/2000/4, 11 August 2000, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/E.C.12.2000.4.En

4 Address of Pope Francis at the United Nations Office in Nairobi, 26 November 2015.

(from Vatican Radio)