Inequality and essential services blog channel

As an Oxfam policy advisor on access to medicines, I believe governments have to take decisive action to reduce the price of new medicines to treat HIV and AIDS that are needed when HIV positive individuals develop resistance to first line treatments. These 2nd and 3rd line treatments, which are patented by big pharmaceutical companies, often cost five to ten times more than 1st line treatments for AIDS.

Mexico City abounds with life, but this week it´s even more abuzz. More than 25,000 people from around the world have come together to demand universal action now on HIV/AIDS and the energy is electric.

Activists and service providers, funders and researchers, big Pharma and sex workers, presidents and hairstylists have converged for the 17th International AIDS Conference, the first time the conference is being held in Latin America.

It’s my first time driving on the right side of the road, I’m in a city I don’t know at all, and I’m lost. The things we do when campaigning for health for all.

I’m in the picturesque city of Geneva at the World Health Assembly.

For the next week, Oxfam will be campaigning to make sure Ministers of Health, their policy staff, the media and the World Health Organisation remember that every day 2 billion people don’t have the medicines they need, 1400 women will die in childbirth and 4,000 children die of diarrhoea.

Some of the issues Oxfam works on aren't that simple. But as things go, access to cheap medicines is a fairly simple one - no one should have to make a choice between putting food on the table and getting treatment from illness.

Unfortunately, in the poorest countries, vital drugs are often priced out of reach - effectively making clinics and hospitals useless, as people can't afford to pay for medicines.

But people are fighting back, and winning.

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