The world is in a state of emergency. The spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis continues despite increased efforts in recent years. This crisis is a personal tragedy for more than 45 million men, women and children suffering from HIV/AIDS. This is also a political, economic and social catastrophe affecting many more. We can not afford to underestimate the challenge that faces us all.
In order to confront HIV/AIDS and other major communicable diseases, action needs to be carried out on many fronts. The Commission as part of the global community is taking its responsibilities. I believe that our efforts have brought us at a turning point. We have to maintain the current momentum and go further. Never before have we seen so many governments, populations and individuals speak out and act in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The Commission has been at the forefront of the battle to ensure that WTO rules protecting intellectual property are made compatible with the rights of poor countries to have access to affordable medicines. And we won this battle in September. We have also led the way by promoting tiered pricing and ensuring that cheap medicines do reach populations in need.
We have also increased the scale of available funding through the Global Fund and other mechanisms. We are also supporting and funding important research efforts. The European Commission will provide more than one billion Euro from 2003 to 2006 to the global response to HIV/AIDS and other major communicable diseases. We vowed at the Millennium Summit to reduce global poverty and fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and we will continue to do so. These efforts will however have to go hand in hand with general efforts to improve the effectiveness of health care systems and health services in developing countries. Improvement of health services is vital if these diseases are to be combated effectively. Community development investment in health, Aids and population has since 1990 reached more than 100 countries totalling €5 billion. We have an obligation to substantially invest in improving health but also education outcomes as part of our development co-operation. This priority should be shared by developing countries themselves and accordingly be reflected in the level of funds that they allocate to these sectors in their own budgets.
But we must not only fight the symptoms; we also have to address the causes. Information and prevention are just as important as treatment. We all share a common responsibility governments and individuals alike. In this context I urge countries to fully take into account the need for urgent enhanced prevention efforts which have been crucial to halt the epidemic in countries such as Uganda or Senegal. HIV/AIDS feeds on poverty ignorance and fear.
It is critically important that we do not misinform, misjudge or mislead and that accurate, disease-preventing and life-saving information and means reach all people in all countries, especially young women and children.
History will judge us harshly if we do not do all within our power to forcefully meet the challenges that faces us. On this day, I call on all Europeans to show solidarity with all infected and affected people in Europe and throughout the world.