One response to the public health challenges facing developing countries

A significant contribution: the French air-ticket solidarity contribution alone could generate up to €200million in additional resources for developing countries.

A collective project: use of the revenue would be coordinated with other countries with an air-ticket solidarity contribution.

A public health priority: France proposes that some of the revenue be allocated to purchasing HIV/AIDS drugs and fighting other pandemics.

A long-term vision: the goal of the airline-ticket contribution is to generate stable, predictable revenue for funding development programmes that require continuous funding, such as anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment. This innovative source of revenue is intended to supplement traditional official development aid (ODA).

The actions taken so far to eradicate pandemics in developing countries fall short of what is needed

In recent years, the international community has made ambitious commitments on health and access to treatment in developing countries. At Gleneagles in July 2005, the G8 agreed to “develop and implement a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care, with the aim of as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010”, and the entire international community made the commitment during the September 2005 United Nations summit.

Despite the efforts and achievements of international organisations (such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, the World Bank, etc.) and bilateral donors, results still fall far short of expectations:

  • Only around 1 million people have access to ARV treatment (June 2005), whereas 6.5 million have an immediate need for ARV drugs.
  • Every year 6 million people die from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (3 million from AIDS alone), the equivalent of 30 tsunamis a year. In areas with the highest prevalence, particularly in Africa, these diseases are tearing whole societies apart. The AIDS pandemic could spread out of control.

Transmissible diseases concern both rich and poor countries, even though the latter are more vulnerable. It is therefore crucial to move beyond the North/South divide, which the international solidarity contribution is designed to do.

Improving access to treatment in poor countries means reducing the cost and increasing the production of medical drugs.

Improving health systems in the South is necessary (increasing the number of doctors, upgrading health infrastructures, etc.), but insufficient in itself. Poor countries need quality drugs in adequate quantities at affordable prices. However, the pharmaceutical majors and generic laboratories will only manufacture drugs that meet those conditions if they have guaranteed, solvent markets.

Programmes that directly or indirectly fund the supply of ARV drugs are a key way of supporting markets for pharmaceutical companies. France therefore proposes that some of the revenue generated by the air-ticket contribution be allocated to such programmes, which are currently underfunded: while €6 billion has been spent on combating HIV/AIDS this year, $14 billion will be needed in 2006, and more than $20 billion per year after 2008, according to UNAIDS estimates.

France proposes that part of the proceeds of the international air-ticket solidarity contribution be used to fund purchases of drugs in order to reduce the cost and spur production of antiretroviral.

The idea is to create an international facility for drug purchases in order to improve access to treatment for the developing countries. The facility would support, not duplicate existing bodies, such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the WHO, or the World Bank. It would be managed jointly by the countries applying the airline ticket contribution in coordination with specialised institutions, the beneficiary countries and concerned countries, and all the parties involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Funding by the international air-ticket solidarity contribution will make the facility more effective:

  • The pharmaceutical industry, assured of continuous funding, will have an incentive to step up production and to lower the price of drugs;
  • Developing countries will at last be able to fund life-long anti-retroviral treatment, which is absolutely vital. Currently, the Global Fund’s programmes only last five years, which makes some countries in the South reluctant to introduce policies on access to treatment for fear that funding will suddenly stop.

Revenue of €200 million would give around 1.3 million people access to ARV treatment.

Last modified on 16/01/2009

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