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Sunday, July 23, 2000

G8 disease fight hailed


Staff writer

NAGO, Okinawa Pref. — A Paris-based nongovernmental organization Saturday hailed the Group of Eight major nation's plan to fight infectious diseases in developing countries, but said more needs to be done for the maladies to be eradicated.

The G8 nations are to announce an initiative to combat infectious diseases such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and polio at the end of the three-day summit here today.

Japan has also separately pledged $3 billion to help developing countries tackle the problem.

The initiative also includes creating a fund in the United Nations to aid NGOs working in the field as well as holding a followup meeting later in the year.

"The first good news is that the need to tackle infectious diseases, the need for global action, is firmly on the agenda of international leaders," said Bernard Pecoul, director of the campaign to improve access to drugs worldwide at Medecins Sans Frontieres.

But he noted there remains a gap in drug pricing among nations.

Some countries allow use of only expensive, patented drugs and vaccines although lower-priced generic drugs are available, he said, adding that the G8 nations need to push for proliferation of more affordable drugs worldwide.

"Without starting to talk about trade issues, we are afraid that situations will not change for individual human beings suffering and dying from infectious diseases," Pecoul said.



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