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Civil G8

Summary of the Round Table on
Preventing Infectious Diseases
February 16, 2006, Moscow

Summary on energy security
Summary on education
Initiatives and recommendations for the fight against infectious diseases
Prophylaxis of infectious diseases and providing medical assistance to the socially undefended

The most dangerous issues in the sphere of infectious disease (tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS infection, drug addiction) particularly affect several social groups. The first group is prisoners, including in detention centres and prisons. HIV-associated tuberculosis has become a reality of our time, which creates significant difficulties in accommodating and treating this category of patient. The second group is homeless and unsupervised children and teenagers. The third is migrants fleeing armed conflicts, who are marginalised due to a lack of means of support. The fourth is teenagers who have problems with drugs and alcohol. This also causes a heightened risk of infection with new diseases bird flu and other modern epidemics.

In order to solve the problem of tuberculosis in the Russian Federation, continuity must be established in respect of released prisoners between the medical and health institutions of the correctional system and anti-tuberculosis institutions. Russia has 57 correctional centres for tuberculosis, and 50 tuberculosis hospitals and departments of general hospitals. But this is not much. Implementation of updated medical and sanitary measures is also required. Specifically, measures aimed at preventing intravenous drug use, and also programmes for medical personnel. In preparing materials for the G8 summit it is important to emphasise the importance of establishment of a multifaceted framework of state measures for rehabilitation of those leaving the prison system with chronic infectious diseases.

Modern medicine, and civil society as a whole, are currently faced with many moral challenges. One of these is euthanasia. An equally significant moral issue is the right to make personal choices. A person suffering from chemical dependency cannot be helped unless he/she is respected as a person, as the key to effectively curing drug addiction is utilisation of the patient's personal strengths. A repressive approach, where patients are treated as infectious and to be isolated from society, cannot achieve positive results. For this reason, techniques allowing these inner resources to be drawn upon are required. On the other side, damage-reduction techniques, involving raising patients' motivation levels and involving them in dialogue with specialist services, or replacement therapy, where the patient does not want to withdraw from the drug but is prepared to cooperate with normative society, are also charged with with moral choices. The task of civil society is to draw the attention of the G8 leaders to this interconnection.

Another important aspect is financing. In most cases it is insufficient and inconsistent, as general access to preventative measures and support after HIV infection cannot be provided. And since HIV/AIDS is a problem that affects many agencies and sectors, without civil society neither preventative measures for high-risk groups nor treatment can be provided.

In order for all parties to be able to receive medicine, specifically vaccination, access must first be provided, and specifically an international fund with special-purpose financing provided by the G8 countries. The core goal of foundation of such a fund would be financing of scientific development, including fulfillment of national calendars.

In developing new approaches and methods for prevention of infectious diseases, we cannot overlook the fact that they primarily spread in areas with high population density, which requires intensive livestock farming and agriculture, and where transmission of viruses and bacteria is greatest. The worrying overpopulation of our planet and accompanying increase in local strain density, as well as terrible environmental damage, has given rise to increased use of the term "biological catastrophe". One such case, which is genetic in origin, is bird flu. The appearance of new infectious agents with fundamentally new genetic makeup and structure is entirely possible, and must be seriously studied.

During Russia's formation of a civil companion to the G8 summit, it was decided to state as core principles continuity and consistency, transparency and openness. Russian NGOs must strive to ensure that long-term and global themes for discussion are emphasised when the G8 presidency is passed on to Germany, in order to ensure true continuity.

Since the G8 leaders will not be discussing all healthcare issues, only the specific problem of prevention of infectious diseases, a model of approaches to prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in these marginalised groups could be recommended to them, and universal approaches to public health could be developed. The issue of infectious diseases is a model for development of a change in people's attitudes to health as a core value of the state and of humankind as a whole.

Source: Civil G8

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