To read the study please visit http://www.acria.org/
To read the study please visit http://www.acria.org/
The second session of the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing is coming up in August. Registration is now available for NGOs holding consultative status with the ECOSOC Council of the UN. Global Action on Aging believes that others - organizations or individuals - who do not have this status should be able to describe specific human rights of older persons that they need in their countries. GAA asked its subscribers to send testimonies about how the cutback in pensions, social security and health services impacts their daily lives. Here’s a sample of letters that we have received so far. Send yours now! We will keep updating as we have more.
In Turkey I see human rights abuse when retired workers do not receive equal salaries or equal social security payments. Cafer Tufan Yazicioglu. http://mailto:email@example.com/
United States of America
JJ and I have been married for over 60 years. Most of those years we paid taxes and did continuous volunteer work. JJ is a retired World War Two naval veteran. His frightening diagnosis of Alzheimer’s interrupted our retirement years. The State of Oregon and Lane County offer us coordinated programs (free or reduced medical care) and half time domestic care each day. We benefit from the services of local care people who are trained for this work. They have training and education in nursing and therapy. These services are necessary for a healthy nation. We are saved from the “poor farms” and the breadlines of the US Depression.
United States of America
I could not continue to live as I do without Sec. 8 (for housing) and Medicare. I also have insurance through AARP for prescription medicine but I do not take any. I urge you to listen to the CD from Interface Voices for early June - an interview with a Dr. Agrian (??) who speaks so well for those of us who, though aged (I'm 87 but not infirm), are often presumed to be unable to participate in politics --or, in the name of gov. programs are prevented from keeping ourselves and others informed. You can get information about that interview from Maureen Fiedler
United States of America
In today’s globalized world, more people are on the move than at anytime ever recorded in the history. This migration is challenging nations-states and their “rigid” borders. At a UN side event that took place during the High Level Meeting on AIDS, William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), stated that there are approximately 1 billion migrants in the world, one third of whom are international.
Why are they migrating? Some move for political reasons; some to make extra money. For others it is a matter of survival, such as for the thousands of Syrians who have fled to Turkey in the since late May 2011. Unfortunately, migrants don’t always find a better or safer place than the one they left behind. Think of the overcrowded refugee camps or windowless cell-like dorms where some labor migrants settle in order to find jobs and to send remittances to their families and others back home. Those who begin this process may be in good health; however, bad living conditions nearly always compromise the migrants’ health.
People who are part of the migrant stream often confront HIV, an issue that emerged during the conference. I was attracted to this session by the flyer that posed the following question: “Ten years after the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, what have we accomplished?” One of the speakers, Dr. Sophia Kisting, International Labour Organization AIDS Director, said that millions of dollars are being spent for testing migrants, but not a single penny is spent for treating those whose tests are positive. Moreover, the authorities testing migrants do not share the results with them. Dr. Kisting said this failure to inform migrants leads them to believe that they are HIV-free. However, we now know that if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, people with HIV can live long lives. By not telling the migrants whether or not they have HIV, the researchers are killing migrants chance to live and also contributing to more HIV cases as they engage in sex.
Another speaker, Mody Guiro, President of the International Trade Union Confederation of Africa, raised the issue of vulnerability of female migrants. He said that most women refugees or IDPs cannot afford to buy antiretroviral treatment. Also, if migrant worker are subject to compulsory HIV testing they lack freedom of choice or discriminatory treatment Even if migrants secure medications, they risk death if they deported because of their HIV status; their treatment stops and they eventually die. The big question is how to treat lifelong diseases like AIDS while migrating?
The last speaker, Rhon Reynolds, representing the European AIDS Treatment Group, African and Black Diaspora Global Network on HIV/AIDS summed up HIV and migration relation in five Ds: discrimination, deportation, detention, dispersal and destitution.
More than 30 years have passed since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were discovered. Once known as the “gay cancer’ and fatal, AIDS today is a treatable disease if diagnosed at an early stage. However the stigma against HIV positive people still remains alive and well.
Duygu Basaran, firstname.lastname@example.org
His early years of Social Work education led him to realize the great potential of the then relatively new and fast expanding field of aging. His doctoral dissertation focused on aging workers, social security and pensions, grounded in the belief that the aging field should go beyond the ever popular “humanitarian” role that focused on healthcare, homes for the aged, nursing homes and recreational activities. Shuman argued for a “developmental” role that goes beyond individual older persons and embraces the impact of population aging on society as a whole. And so, according to Dr. Shuman, the First World Assembly on Aging was a first attempt, though with very limited success, to redirect the attention of policy makers and gerontologists to the complementarities of these two roles.
I asked about how he evaluated the efficiency of outreach programs to educate people about aging issues. He answered that they are disappointing as any approach being taken-- whether by governments or NGOs-- is still incomplete. Most researchers still ignore the “developmental” side of the story; he believes that the field of aging is not balanced.
On a final note, Dr. Shuman was kind enough to give me personally, and GAA interns in general, some words of encouragement and advice. He praised the work we are doing here and how important it is to take what we learn here back to our countries. My country Lebanon, for example, has not yet matured in this field. It does not go beyond the humanitarian charitable issues of aging. Hopefully, my education can someday inform and encourage policymakers in Lebanon and help this country catch up with the rest of the world.
Dalia Sayess; email@example.com
During the 2011 UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, I had the opportunity to attend two side events. This year, the Meeting focused on universal access to treatment. Although older persons attended both meetings, older people were not specifically mentioned. I had assumed that with the talk of universal access, all people infected by HIV/AIDS would be taken into account and that the topics and information would apply to older persons as well.
On June 7, I attended a meeting organized by Médecins Sans Frontières and the African Union. The topic of this event was “HIV Treatment: Reducing deaths, illness, and HIV infections while keeping costs down.” Some numbers came up frequently: 6.5 million people currently get antiretroviral therapy (ART); nevertheless, 9 million other people living with HIV/AIDS have not access to ART. The panelists underscored the need to provide treatment to these people. First, treatment saves lives. People with AIDS live longer and in better health than they would without treatment. Second - and this may be the most important means to stop or at least control the epidemic- is that having HIV positive people under treatment reduces transmission and can help stop the spread of the epidemic. But once you say that, another striking number is mentioned. Between 2011 and 2020, indeed, 12.2 million new people are expected to be infected. So the question comes up about how to treat all infected persons. Who will pay for the drugs? How can poor people afford drugs that are still expensive? Two panelists mentioned the role of government. For instance, the South African government recently decided to put all people living with HIV on treatment. Brazil, since its 1996 law has defined health as a right, now provides medication to everyone who needs it.
But the major challenge concerns the price of drugs. While pharmaceutical industries benefit from patents, the most effective way to decrease drugs’ prices is generic drugs competition. Unfortunately, this competition is challenged by developed countries that want to assure conformity with the TRIPS (agreement in the World Trade Organization on intellectual properties). So is there were we stand? Expensive drugs because of patent protections and actual funding cuts in AIDS programs since 2009? What should have precedence? Health or Profits?
I attended a second session on June 8 titled, “Faith-based Action to Achieve Universal Access.” Here the panelist described funding cutbacks, but the emphasis was more on mothers and children living with HIV. In some African countries faith based organizations provide support of up to 70% of the HIV positive population. For them, budget cuts mean more difficulty to access drugs, scarce nutritional support, and no access to ART for new patients. As traditional funding decreases, it is necessary to develop new ideas for revenue resources, such as the Air ticket tax implemented by UNITAID. Panelists also mentioned the need to develop better combinations of drugs, especially for children. But this idea can be extended to adults and older people as simpler and fixed-dose drug combinations help decrease the prices. In addition, a lower price will likely increase the demand as more countries and/or organizations can afford to purchase the drugs. Increased demand is likely to attract more pharmaceutical industries competing and eventually lowering prices.
To conclude, I would like to say that according to what I heard, universal access can be achieved. Dr. Bernhard Schwartlender, a UNAIDS worker said this was financially and technically possible. Of course, funding at the level of $22 billion annually by 2015 is needed too. I tend to agree with Dr. Bernhard Schwartlender: “[Fighting AIDS] is not a question of paying now or later; it’s a question of paying now or forever”. So what are we waiting for?
- Aude Feltz