e-alliance ::

The role of government and pharmaceutical companies in ensuring HIV diagnostics and
treatment for children

Governments have a duty to ensure that existing medication is available within their borders; such obligations are clearly stated in international human rights law. This implies that a state is obliged to establish a national medicine supply system that includes programs specifically tailored to reach the vulnerable and disadvantaged, such as children living with HIV.1 Moreover, governments have a responsibility to take all necessary measures to ensure that much-needed new medicines are developed, become available and are accessible.2 Indeed, one of the Millennium Development Goal3 targets is to provide, in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries.4

So, while governments have the primary responsibility for implementing the right to health, it is pharmaceutical companies that can make this happen. However, pharmaceutical companies set the price of pediatric diagnostic equipment and medicines too high. They also under-invest in research and development of medications to treat HIV in children. These things, along with lobbying for legal standards that limit access to HIV medicines, prevent the state from fulfilling their responsibility to provide adequate healthcare for its people.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special Convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to life and survival; to health, including access to medicines; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services.

By ratifying or acceding to the Convention, national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights and they have agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community.

In 2009, the Convention will be 20 years old and on that occasion we want political leaders to tell the children of the world how they have promoted and respected the child’s right to health. We also need to keep the pressure up so that all children living with HIV can access the life-saving treatment they deserve.

Read the Convention and the status of ratifications

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. The UDHR and its core values - inherent human dignity, non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality, apply to everyone, everywhere and always.  Since its adoption in 1948, the Declaration has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for national and international efforts to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

On 10 December 2007, Human Rights Day, the Secretary-General of the United Nations launched a yearlong campaign in which everybody is called to prepare for the 60th birthday of the Declaration (Human Rights Day - 10 December 2008). The theme for 2008, is “Dignity and justice for all of us”. This theme reinforces the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a commitment to universal dignity and justice.

Read the Declaration and learn more about the 60th Anniversary


  1. UN. Doc A/61/338, Paul Hunt
  2. UN. Doc A/61/338, Paul Hunt
  3. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world's main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000. The eight MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators. Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education; Goal 3: promote gender equality and empower women; Goal 4: Reduce chid mortality; Goal 5: improve maternal health; Goal 6: Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases; Goal 7 Ensure environmental sustainability; Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development.
    Further information
  4. Millennium Development Goals, Target 17 of Goal 8.