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2003 Gates Award for Global Health - Brazilian National AIDS Program

$1 million award recognizes Brazil’s comprehensive response to HIV/AIDS

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Lynnette Johnson Williams
Global Health Council
Phone: 202.255.0565

SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that the Brazilian National AIDS Program (NAP) has been selected to receive the 2003 Gates Award for Global Health. The program, considered a model for combating HIV/AIDS in developing countries, combines free access to antiretroviral treatment with aggressive HIV prevention campaigns.

The $1 million Gates Award, administered by the Global Health Council, will be presented tonight in Washington, DC at the Council’s 30th annual international conference. The Brazilian government will use the funds to support community-based AIDS groups caring for orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Brazil received international attention in 1996 when it guaranteed all citizens free access to antiretroviral drugs; today, it provides HIV treatment to approximately 115,000 people. The government has greatly reduced treatment costs by negotiating lower prices with drug companies and by manufacturing generic versions of some drugs. Brazil estimates that since 1996, its treatment program has reduced AIDS mortality rates by nearly 50% and opportunistic infections by 60-80%. The government also estimates that its treatment program prevented nearly 360,000 hospital admissions from 1997-2001, resulting in savings of more than $1 billion.

Brazil’s treatment program is closely integrated with countrywide HIV prevention efforts, which include HIV counseling and testing, condom marketing, education campaigns, and drug treatment programs. In a recent report, Access to HIV Prevention: Closing the Gap, the Global HIV Prevention Working Group cited Brazil as “the clearest example of the potential synergy between prevention and treatment initiatives.”

“Brazil has shown that with perseverance, creativity, and compassion, it is possible for a hard-hit country to turn back its AIDS epidemic,” said Dr. William Foege, senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Chairman of the Global Health Council’s Board of Directors. “Brazil is saving lives and saving resources at the same time, and that should be an inspiration to countries around the world.”

Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council, said, “the Brazilian National AIDS Program broke the logjam in the debate over AIDS treatment. Brazil showed the world that what was thought to be impossible—treating people with AIDS in a developing country—was indeed possible in the context of a comprehensive AIDS program, and that effective prevention and treatment efforts are enormously and mutually reinforcing.”

“The United States and other donor nations should take note of Brazil’s example as we move towards a comprehensive global AIDS approach. The NAP has challenged all parties involved in care, treatment and prevention to give their best to addressing HIV and AIDS in that country. NAP and the Brazilian Ministry of Health have accepted the responsibility for taking action to halt the spread of AIDS, provide drugs to treat and care for those in need, and to completely change the way the country thinks about the disease,” Daulaire said.

The Gates Award was selected by a jury of international public health leaders, including the Global Health Council’s board of directors and other experts from three continents. The jury considered the following criteria: extraordinary contributions toward progress in the knowledge and practice of health in low-income societies, demonstrated leadership, an established record of achievement, innovation in program design, organizational capacity, collaboration with others, evidence that contributions have been adopted across geographic and organizational boundaries, and substantial impact on health around the world.

 “We are so thankful for this recognition of Brazil’s commitment to the basic human rights of people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS,” said Dr. Paulo R. Teixeira, director of the Brazilian National AIDS Program. “The Gates Award will help Brazil show the world that it is possible to provide care and prevention in developing countries. It is the Brazilian way to be responsible to our citizens and to share our comprehensive program with our neighbors.”

The award will be presented on Thursday, May 29 in Washington, DC at a dinner during the Global Health Council's 30th annual international conference, “Our Future on Common Ground: Health and the Environment.” Dr. William Foege will present the award on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2002, the Gates Award was presented to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International in recognition of Rotary’s leadership and impact in the field of public health, most notably the organization’s efforts to eradicate polio by 2005. The Centre for Health and Population Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh was awarded the first-ever Gates Award in 2001 for its pioneering discovery and development of oral re-hydration solution (ORS), which today saves the lives of 2.5 million children each year from diarrhea.

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