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Press release

UNICEF, UNITAID team up to prevent HIV infection in newborns

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 30 November 2007 – UNICEF and UNITAID today launched a joint initiative to help scale up national programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

This joint initiative will help accelerate the scaling-up of HIV testing and counselling by health workers in antenatal, maternal and postpartum health services, broaden the provision of anti-retroviral therapy to women and their newborns, and increase early access to paediatric HIV treatment for young HIV-infected infants.

“If we are to turn the tide of HIV, we must seek to make medicines available to all the women and children who need them,” said Jimmy Kolker, Chief of the HIV and AIDS Section at UNICEF. “UNICEF’s partnership with UNITAID brings us a step closer to that objective.”

Illness and death among HIV-infected pregnant women, mothers and their infants can be greatly reduced through the use of simple antibiotics to prevent associated infections.

Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chairman of the UNITAID Board, added, “UNITAID, UNICEF and their national and local partners decide today to come together to bring a significant change in the life of at least one million pregnant women. Unity and leadership are more than ever needed to reduce the transmission of HIV from the mothers to their children.”

On an initial basis, eight countries are set to benefit from this initiative: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Under the agreement, UNITAID will fund HIV diagnostics, anti-retroviral medicines and antibiotics for patients in the target countries for a period of up to 24 months, up to the amount of $21 million.

UNICEF will contribute policy and operational guidance, local capacity-building and technical assistance for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

UNICEF will also use its procurement experience to access high-quality products at the lowest prices, and will provide in-country support for governments’ efforts to effectively distribute medicines and diagnostics.

UNITAID is an international drug purchase facility, established to provide long-term, sustainable and predictable funding to increase access and reduce prices of quality drugs and diagnostics for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries. UNITAID is based on innovative financing mechanisms such as solidarity taxes on air tickets together with multi-year budgetary contributions. Hosted by the World Health Organization, UNITAID is a collaborative initiative, which approved, in its first year, $230 million across 10 programmes targeting 80 countries with partners including UNICEF, WHO, UNAIDS, Stop TB Partnership, the Global Drug Facility, Roll Back Malaria Partnership, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1-212-326-7162, nmekki@unicef.org

Audrey Quehen, UNITAID Geneva, +41-22-791-1437, quehena@who.int





3 December 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the landmark Red Ribbon Express initiative launched in India on World AIDS Day.
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30 November 2007:
UNICEF’s Senior Policy Advisor on HIV and AIDS, Tom Franklin, talks about the impact of the pandemic on children and young people.
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View highlights of ‘Who’s Afraid of HIV?’, a UNICEF-funded documentary to be broadcast on BBC World on World AIDS Day 2007.
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