NEW DELHI - Millions of the world's poorest people could have easier access to life-saving drugs if India introduces an air ticket tax to help fund purchases of cheap medicines for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, a senior UN official said.
UNITAID, a UN agency which negotiates for cheap medicines from pharmaceutical manufacturers to treat deadly diseases, is lobbying countries such as India to join its air ticket levy initiative which began in 2006.
Under the program, countries put a nominal amount on the cost of air tickets which funds UNITAID to buy drugs for patients in the developing world. Ten countries have imposed the levy, generating $200 million annually for cheap medicine.
"What we want in India is a similar system by which a very small contribution which is painless to the traveler can be applied to large numbers of travelers," UNITAID Executive Director Denis Broun told AlertNet in an interview.