SLOW ONSET DISASTER
Rutger and his organization, with the help of Mr. Eelco Dijkstra (an expert in International Emergency and Crisis Managment) , are working on a very important project: to convince International Agencies and Governments to classify AIDS as a 'Slow Onset Disaster'.
Some years ago WHO (the World Health Organization) declared the HIV/AIDS epidemic a ''global health emergency''.
Rutger would like now to go one step further and have it classified as a ''disaster''. Why?
According to UNO (the United Nations Organization), a disaster is classified as any "serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability of a society to cope using only its own resources."
Since when the HIV virus was detected in the human body in the early 80's, it has been taking its scary tolll with millions of deaths. In 2006, the number of people living with HIV amounted to 39.5 million, the people newly infected to 4.3 million and the deaths to 2.9 million.
There are other diseases that are a serious threat for all societies and - compared to AIDS - have resulted in more deaths, but what differs this sneaky disease from all the others is that HIV and AIDS strike young adults in their most productive years. This creates a disruption of a potential economic growth, with subsequent repercussions on the next generations. The terrible consequences of this can already be seen to a very large extent in some sub-Saharan countries, with the results we all sadly know.
Obtaining for AIDS an official recognition as a disaster would allow the most stricken countries
to declare a formal state of emergency. International law dictates that the country itself has the primary responsibility for calling a state of emergency, thus declaring a state of emergency in a country plagued by AIDS would create various important responses in terms of international community help for humanitarian aid, while internally such a declaration commits the Government to act and take the appropriate steps to resolve the crisis through the possibility of increasing accountability.
Furthermore, by declaring a state of emergency, the country also acquires the ability to over-ride legal, operational, and bureaucratic obstacles that so often impede effective responses. Such over-rides may help to overcome problems associated with the lack of trained health professionals in some countries and allow, for example, the military to help in the construction of clinics or guarding antiretroviral drugs.
In addition, a formal declaration of emergency to fight the AIDS pandemic would allow stricken countries to use provisions for public health emergencies that have been built into the ''Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights''.
This means that countries declaring a state of emergency would have indisputable grounds to apply for compulsory licences to manufacture and import, under certain circumstances, generic versions of anti-viral drugs and antibiotics required to treat people with the HIV virus.
It goes without saying that declaring a state of emergency is a serious action and should be taken into consideration only in the most critical situations. In many societies AIDS is serious enough to create this type of response, but it is easy to understand why a Government may be hesitant to declare a state of emergency: it should publicly admit that their country is in a vulnerable condition, which may lead to international trade ties or serious repercussions on tourism.
A note from Rutger: ''Based of the fact that most aids research reports are older than two years by the time they are revealed to the public and also that these reports are based on a small fraction of a population, I feel confident to tell you that the paper trail or data are still very much behind what is going on in the real world in China, India, South Africa. I would advise you to calculate numbers between 4 and 10 times more. Even conservative numbers like the total of 39 million worldwide I feel might be at least double that now. NOW. That is a lot of suffering. To be considered and taken to heart. Rutger Hauer''.
Thanks to the following information sources:
''Reframing HIV and AIDS'' study by Lara Stabinski, Karen Pelley, Shevin T Jacob, Jason M Long and Jennifer Leaning.
''2006 AIDS Epidemic Update'' report by UNAIDS.