Statement by H.E. Mr. Jun Yamazaki
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
Plenary Meeting of the 67th Session of the General Assembly
Agenda Item 11: Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS
10 June 2013
My delegation would like thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report entitled “Accelerating the AIDS response: achieving the targets of the 2011 Political Declaration”. My delegation would also like to thank the President of the General Assembly for giving us the opportunity to have a dialogue on this agenda item with other Member States.
More than 30 years have passed since HIV/AIDS first came to the world’s attention. When it was first reported in 1981, people feared AIDS not only because it was an unknown disease but also because it was an untreatable and fatal disease. Our understanding of HIV/AIDS at that time was woefully insufficient. This lack of understanding led to discrimination and prejudice against patients and their families.
However, thanks to the efforts of scientists and other medical professionals, the causative virus was identified and treatments to control that virus have been developed. Today, HIV infection is a medically controllable disease.
Nevertheless, the number of people infected by HIV worldwide is estimated to be some 34 million as of the end of 2011, with around 2.5 million people newly infected annually. Various measures have enabled some countries to accomplish a decrease in the number of newly infected individuals, while there are other countries where the number of newly infected patients continues to increase. Controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS remains a complicated and multi-faceted challenge.
There are less than 1000 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With regard to HIV/AIDS, it is crucial for us to continue the steady implementation of the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, and to move ongoing discussions on the post-2015 UN development agenda forward. In this regard, my delegation would like to emphasize the importance of “Universal Health Coverage (UHC)” and taking a “people-centered approach” as recommended in the report of the Secretary-General.
At the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly on MDGs in September 2010, my country committed to contributing USD 5 billion over five years starting from 2011 to address issues of global health. This includes our commitment to contribute up to USD 800 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as Japan announced at the 3rd voluntary replenishment conference. We have been implementing these commitments in spite of our difficult fiscal situation. The reason is that health-related issues, including HIV/AIDS, are global issues that directly impact human security.
Lack of equitable access to life-saving HIV treatment especially for women and children, needs to be dealt with. Human security provides a comprehensive approach that strengthens the protection and empowerment of people and communities in need. In this regard, Japan expects the UN organizations and the Member States to draw on this approach on the ground to fight HIV/AIDS.
My delegation believes that the concept of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is essential for accelerating the response to HIV/AIDS. In order to enable all people to access services for HIV/AIDS, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healthcare, it is necessary to implement comprehensive measures to strengthen health systems as the foundation of UHC, including specialized programs for HIV/AIDS. For example, it is effective to integrate counter HIV/AIDS programmes, such as counseling and voluntary testing for HIV during ordinary prenatal check-ups, into general health services.
In Japan, under our national health programme, we have established effective health and medical systems by locating health care facilities nationwide, and developing medical specialists such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Furthermore, Japan has realized universal medical care insurance in order to enable everyone to access sufficient services. Our challenge now is to realize universal access to necessary health care services for all people living with HIV/AIDS as well as to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against them and their families.
While making the utmost effort to achieve the MDGs, we also need to consider the post-2015 development agenda. Japan has been actively contributing to efforts to set that agenda through such means as organizing since 2011 the ‘Post-MDGs Contact Group’. Furthermore, discussions on the post-2015 agenda are ongoing in various fora, which will serve as a good basis for the discussions among Member States. My delegation believes that the major challenges to be included in the new framework are equity and inclusiveness, universal health coverage, quality education, sustainability, resilience to natural disasters, economic growth and job creation. Among these, the principle of UHC should be recognized as one of the major elements of health-related goals in the future discussions.
Japan is ready to share its experiences in the area of health, including the implementation of UHC, with the international community, and we will continue to support other Member States in their efforts to address HIV/AIDS.
Last week, the Government of Japan hosted the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Japan together with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and the African Union Commission (AUC). With the participation of representatives of 51 African countries as well as representatives from many international organizations, the private sector, and NGOs, the Conference was a huge success. Participants reiterated that health related issues, including infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, are urgent concerns in African countries. We expect the follow-up to the outcome of TICAD V, namely Yokohama Declaration 2013 and Yokohama Action Plan 2013-2017, will contribute to the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDs as well as infectious and non-communicable diseases in African countries. We look forward to continue working with the United Nations in this regard.