The AIDS Foundation is playing a significant part in a new pressure group made up of 25 NGOs from around the country, aimed at improving access to medical treatments. The Access To Medicines NGO Coaltion (ATM) was launched in Wellington last week, and its spokesperson is Steve Attwood, also the communications co-ordinator for the AIDS Foundation. Its stated objective is to "improve access to prescription medicines in New Zealand by increasing the efficiency of approval and distribution process." ATM says it wants a review of Pharmac, the Government's drug funding agency, because delays in accessing treatments from overseas are affecting communities and families, and putting a strain on the public health system. "Many ATM members can tell tales of people being in hospital, being severely debilitated, and requiring expensive, intrusive and long term medical intervention," says Attwood, "when, if drugs already used overseas were available and/or subsidised here, those same people could still be working, paying taxes, supporting their families and contributing to their communities. The non-availability or unaffordability of some medicines has meant a greater burden on the health system than what it would cost just to make the medicines available." This is a particularly pertinent issue for those living with HIV, and was raised as a priority issue for positive people at the recent AIDS Foundation AGM. "We have positive people leaving their home country of New Zealand to go overseas for better healthcare. I'm one of them, and I'd really like to come home," said former NZAF board chair Jonathan Smith. The ATM coalition sees the AIDS Foundation working hand-in-hand with a multitude of other organisations, including: ADDvocate, Alzheimers New Zealand, Arthritis New Zealand, Asthma New Zealand, Balance, Cancer Society, Carers New Zealand, Continence Association, Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand, Diabetes Youth, Epilepsy New Zealand, IDFNZ, Kidney Kids, LAM Trust, Leukaemia and Blood Foundation, Lysosomal Diseases New Zealand, Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand, Myeloma Matters, New Zealand AIDS Foundation, New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders, Parkinsons New Zealand, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Monday, 28th November 2005 - 12:00pm
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