Joint Islamic action to respond to AIDS

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Joint Islamic action to respond to AIDS

10 March 2009


The Islamic Conference of Health Ministers (ICHM) brought together representatives from 57 member countries from 1 – 4 March in the I.R. of Iran. Credit: ICHM

The Islamic Republic of Iran hosted the second session of the Islamic Conference of Health Ministers (ICHM) bringing together representatives from 57 member countries from 1 – 4 March to discuss health issues facing the Islamic community under the theme "Health Equity in the Islamic Ummah."

The aim of the conference was to formulate concrete proposals in addressing health issues through initiating a “Health Vision” for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as well as to review the implementation and progress made on the decisions and recommendations of the First Islamic conference of Ministers of Health held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2007.

“Policy makers in the area of health should adopt a comprehensive strategy towards health issues. A strategy which considers health as the focus of development, where health is evaluated in a broad sense from physical to psychological, social, and spiritual health,” said H.E Professor Lankarani Minister of Health and Medical Education of I.R. Iran, during the opening of the meeting.

In relation to combating communicable diseases, it was noted with deep concern in the resolution adopted by the ministers on this subject, that AIDS is a crisis with disastrous consequences for the social and economic progress of all nations, including Muslim countries. The resolution urged OIC member states to foster HIV prevention programmes in cooperation with, among others, UNAIDS, WHO and the Global Fund. Such programs shall be formulated and implemented with full respect for Islamic, Cultural, Ethical and Social values of OIC member states.

"Ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is the cornerstone to reverse the HIV epidemic."

Renu Chahil-Graf, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Middle East and North Africa

There is no single HIV epidemic among the 57 OIC member countries. While the number of reported infections is on the rise in some countries and stable in others, higher HIV prevalence rates are documented among specific populations and settings within a number of countries. This is compounded by wider socioeconomic dynamics, such as changing lifestyles of young people, socio-political instability and conflict, gender inequality and mobility, factors that can increase vulnerability to HIV infection.

“Ensuring universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is the cornerstone to reverse the HIV epidemic,” said Renu Chahil-Graf, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Middle East and North Africa. “The opportunities afforded by the drive to universal access must be seized to ensure access to all essential commodities, gender equality, human rights, progress on all Millennium Development Goals and primary health care for all.”

The final resolution adopted by the OIC invites its member states and the OIC General Secretariat to contribute to the global response to AIDS in the context of international cooperation and partnership, and by actively sharing and disseminating the common Islamic vision and approach in responding to the HIV epidemic.

The OIC brings together 57 Member States inhabited by almost 1.5 billion people and spread over four continents in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. The efforts of the OIC are mainly aimed at crystallizing a Joint Islamic Action to ensure, safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world. Since the 3rd Extraordinary Summit in Makkah Al-Mukarramah in 2005, whereby a Ten-Year Programme of Action was formulated, developmental targets in various domains including Health were set. For example, the Summit strongly called for combating pandemics and eradicating diseases and epidemics such as AIDS, Malaria, Polio and Tuberculosis.