Get your act together, guys
Two UN reports on AIDS are coming out this month. That is one too many
SOMETHING odd is going on in the international AIDS establishment. December 1st has been designated (as it is every year) to be “World AIDS Day”. That is a signal for the United Nations to put out a report on the state of the epidemic. This year, though, there are to be two reports.
On November 21st UNAIDS, an agency created in 1996 to deal specifically with the then-newish disease, published its assessment of the situation. This reaffirmed what has become clear recently: that the epidemic is being beaten back by the widespread deployment of drugs, in combination with changes in the behaviour of those most at risk. The annual number of deaths has fallen to 1.8m, from its peak of 2.2m in 2005. New infections have also fallen, from a peak of 3.2m in 1997 to 2.7m last year. The report went on to outline what it calls an investment framework, designed to deal with the epidemic in the most cost-effective way. This builds on an analysis published in the Lancet in June by Bernhard Schwartl?nder, UNAIDS’s director of evidence, strategy and results. It attempts to prescribe, for each part of the world, the mixture of drug treatment, condom-promotion, prophylactic circumcision and so on that will bring most benefit to the fight.
On November 30th, however, a joint report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and—you’ve guessed it—UNAIDS comes out. What it will say is still under wraps. But WHO and UNICEF are also sponsors of UNAIDS, so the duplication of effort looks odd.
Both sides seem miffed by the other’s actions. Michel Sidibé, the head of UNAIDS, described the production of separate reports as “costly and inefficient”. Gottfried Hirnschall, the WHO’s director of HIV/AIDS, says it had been agreed that in 2011 the three organisations would work together and jointly release a single report.
Though the AIDS epidemic has been knocked back by the huge sums of money now being thrown at it (about $15 billion a year at the moment, in poor and middle-income countries), continued success requires an uninterrupted supply of drugs—and therefore of the cash to pay for them. The state of the world’s economy means politicians are looking for any excuse to save money. Not a good moment to be squabbling.
epidemic n.传染病, 流行病 assessment n. 估价; 评价 framework n. 构架, 骨架 duplication n. 副本; 复制 inefficient adj. 无效率的 knock back 回击