WHO AIDS plan still billions short

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is in need of US $9 billion to realise its plan for treating three million people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries by 2005.

According to Paulo Roberto Teixeira, head of the WHO anti-AIDS programme, only five percent of an estimated six million people living with HIV/AIDS globally had access to antiretroviral drugs.

During a recent interview with Reuters, Teixeira said: "We are already late. We cannot go on waiting for social and economic change in developing countries to tackle this problem."

The WHO treatment drive, dubbed "Three by Five," or "3 million by 2005," is set to be launched in Nairobi, Kenya, on World AIDS Day, 1 December 2003.

The programme aims at targeting people in the later stages of HIV infection when treatment can slow progress of the disease.