To the Editor:
Re "How to Distribute AIDS Drugs," by Carol Bellamy (Op-Ed, March 26): Unicef's offer to take the lead in setting up a global procurement and distribution system for AIDS drugs is a significant step in the fight against AIDS.
Unicef has the expertise to coordinate the bulk purchase and quality certification of AIDS drugs, including generics, and to ensure equitable distribution. The World Health Organization must also assist, as it has been mandated, by advising countries on how to overcome patent and trade barriers hampering drug access.
But Unicef and the World Health Organization, like all United Nations agencies, are only as strong as their donor and member states make them. Wealthy nations as well as poor countries facing the AIDS pandemic must now step forward to provide both the financial commitment and political will necessary to turn this plan into a reality.
NICOLAS DE TORRENTE
Doctors Without Borders
New York, March 27, 2001