Presidente. − L'ordine del giorno reca la dichiarazione del Vicepresidente della Commissione/Alto rappresentante dell'Unione per gli affari esteri e la politica di sicurezza su AIDS/HIV in vista della XVIII conferenza internazionale sull'AIDS (18-23 luglio 2010 a Vienna).
Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Madam President, honourable Members, I welcome the opportunity to participate in this session on human rights and HIV/AIDS. It is a timely debate, as we are only 11 days from the opening of the 18th World AIDS Conference, which will take place in Vienna.
The spread of HIV continues to cause considerable suffering. The impact of HIV is worse in situations where human rights are not respected, and we know that conflict situations can lead to an increase in HIV infections, especially when sexual abuse against women and children is common. In the absence of proper anti-discrimination laws, people living with HIV are often too frightened to come forward for help because of fear of stigma.
In countries where homosexuality is criminalised, some face the additional fear of imprisonment and, in extreme cases, even the death penalty. Human rights should empower individuals, including people affected with HIV. The right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health implies that those who are affected by HIV must have access to information as well as effective prevention and treatment options. Affected people should not be discriminated against because of that status.
Honourable Members, we know that HIV infection is used in some countries as a reason to exclude asylum seekers from their right to seek protection. Infected persons may lose their right to work; infected children are sometimes excluded from school. The European Union has been at the forefront of the defence of the rights of HIV-affected and infected people. The European Council adopted conclusions in November 2009, with an EU programme for action to confront HIV/AIDS through external action, including the need to address the human rights aspect.
The European Union has been very active in promoting freedom of travel for people living with HIV. Our stance is that HIV-specific restrictions on entry, stay and residence based on that status are discriminatory and do not protect public health. We therefore welcome the recent modifications of the regulations in the US and in China as positive signs. In the last months EU representatives, both in Brussels and in partner countries, have made several démarches on this issue, including voicing EU concerns about the criminalisation of sexual behaviour among consenting adults – Uganda, Burundi, Malawi – or harassment of AIDS activists by police and judicial authorities in Senegal.
The recent adoption of an EU tool kit to help promote and protect the respect of human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will further consolidate EU action in this area.
Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, w imieniu grupy PPE. – Panie Przewodnicząca! Chcę bardzo podziękować Pani Baroness Ashton, że – choć wszyscy oglądają mecz na zewnątrz – my tutaj debatujemy o prawach osób chorych na AIDS. Debatujemy, ponieważ jest to bardzo bolesna dla nas wszystkich sprawa. Choć w ciągu ostatnich lat nastąpił postęp w leczeniu i zapobieganiu, to jednak niecałe 5 lat zostało nam na zrealizowanie milenijnych celów rozwoju, w ramach których członkowie ONZ zobowiązali się ograniczyć rozprzestrzenianie HIV/AIDS oraz ograniczyć ilość nowych zakażeń.
Tymczasem tak naprawdę liczba osób zarażonych wirusem rośnie. Dotyczy to zwłaszcza niektórych regionów oraz niektórych grup społecznych kobiet i dziewcząt. Dlatego w naszej rezolucji deklarujemy i bardzo popieramy 3 typy działań. Po pierwsze, działania prawne, które mają na celu zachęcić kraje szczególnie narażone na tę chorobę do nadania walce z AIDS priorytetowego charakteru i przygotowania planów walki z tą chorobą, w tym również przygotowania i wprowadzenia praw antydyskryminacyjnych mających na celu ochronę zagrożonych grup społecznych.
Po drugie, mocno podkreślamy działania edukacyjne. Szczególnie ważne jest zapewnienie dostępu do edukacji i przekazywania informacji na temat HIV w celu przeobrażenia dyskryminacji w zrozumienie i akceptację. Jest to ważne nie tylko w krajach rozwijających się, nierozwiniętych, ale również w krajach europejskich jest to nadal bolesna i ważna kwestia.
Oprócz działań edukacyjnych podkreślamy znaczenie dostępu do pewnych leków. Na przykład na jesieni będzie podpisane porozumienie o wolnym handlu z Indiami. Jednym z podstawowych problemów, z którymi się spotkaliśmy w czasie naszej wizyty w Indiach było podkreślenie, że kraj ten produkuje bardzo tanie lekarstwa, które mają zapobiegać i zwalczać AIDS. W momencie podpisania tego traktatu z Unią Europejską będzie to ograniczone, a więc także ta kwestia musi być wzięta pod uwagę.
Michael Cashman, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, listening to Baroness Ashton’s introductory statement I can only say that I feel I can go home. My work is done. I have rarely listened to someone on this side of the House sitting in her position that understands not only what we have done, not only what we are doing, but what we need to do to protect those who are most vulnerable.
That is why I am really pleased that the Parliament has decided to take a rights-based approach, because once you have rights those rights can be enforced by you, by civil society acting on your behalf, or can be enforced by your government – and I speak also as Parliament’s rapporteur on the review of the Millennium Development Goals.
Sadly, with AIDS and HIV, the numbers are growing: currently over 33 million people are living with AIDS and HIV. In 2008 alone, 2.7 million people were newly infected, most of those in sub-Saharan Africa and most – 60% – women and young children. There is quite clearly so much more we need to do. We need to empower individuals about the choices they have, about their bodies and about denying the rights that others wish to force upon them – particularly men – or those, like transgendered people, who are often sex workers and have no choice but to yield to the demands of others. That is why I am particularly pleased that we have made reference to those who are primarily affected by this.
There are elevated levels of infections amongst sex workers, men who have sex with men and deny their own sexuality because of a low esteem level, transgendered people, prisoners, injecting drug users, migrant populations, refugee and mobile workers in nearly all regions. In our own near neighbourhood, Ukraine and Russia, as well as other countries, there are epidemic levels.
It is, however, not all a negative story: the EU has led on this and will continue to lead, and I hope we will lead at the 18th Annual Conference in Vienna.
I just want to say this. Behind all of those statistics of millions, imagine that there is one life affected with the reality of living with AIDS and HIV. Think of the lost generations, lost lives, lost lovers, lost parents, lost brothers and sisters, lives often lost by the loss of the other. Think of the waste – the total, abject waste of life from the preventable transmission of the HIV virus.
Sophia in 't Veld, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, first of all I would like to thank Baroness Ashton for her introduction and both my colleagues, Mrs Kolarska and Michael Cashman, for their words.
I wholeheartedly subscribe to what has been said. I have to say that one of the last things that Michael Cashman just said – that this is a preventable disease – gets me very frustrated. With very simple means and for free – it does not cost a penny – we could prevent so many cases of HIV/AIDS. We could prevent so much misery.
I will look at a couple of key words, starting with stigma. Mrs Kolarska mentioned discrimination and it was also mentioned by you, Baroness Ashton. Even within the European Union there is still stigma. Look at the fact that within a number of Member States, for example, homosexual people are still not allowed to donate blood. Or that there are still Member States which, against all the rules and all the principles that we stand for, ask people for an HIV negative declaration before they allow them to enter the country, even within the European Union. Those are the things that we should address when we are telling other countries in the world how to behave better. So, if we welcome the lifting of the travel ban in the US, we should apply the same principles within the European Union.
In addition to stigma, there is also the problem of narrow-mindedness regarding sexual morals. I am always shocked to find that there are still people in this House who feel that they cannot endorse the kind of resolution that we will be voting tomorrow because it makes reference to sexual and reproductive health rights and sexual autonomy for women. If we simply recognised those principles and notions, and if we had the support of all the Members in this House, then we could already eliminate so much misery. I fail to understand how people can refuse to endorse these principles and still look people – mainly women, I have to say – in the eye who are suffering from these debilitating diseases. I think that autonomy and rights for women are something they have to come clean on. Recognise the fact that women are in charge of their own bodies and that they decide – not only outside the European Union, but also inside the European Union.
These are all things that do not cost a penny – access to medication and to adequate health services. It is basic. Within the European Union, we consider that a basic human right, which is also the theme of today’s debate. Why, then, do we deny that right to other people or consider it a privilege or a favour? No, it is a fundamental right. In addition, if you are practical, we are in the midst of an economic crisis which hits countries outside the European Union particularly. A healthy labour force is the first precondition for economic development, let us face it. Let us invest in health.
I would therefore like to appeal to those countries who are currently considering cuts in their budgets for development assistance and, in particular, assistance to public health. That should be one of our priorities, and we should not be talking about budget cuts. We should be talking about support to those countries, not forgetting, at the same time, to appeal to the responsibility of the national governments.
In conclusion, I would urge all members of all groups across this House to endorse the resolution tomorrow.
Heidi Hautala, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, I will wholeheartedly support what has been said by the three colleagues from three other political groups about HIV and AIDS and I would also like to thank the High Representative for her approach to this question. The resolution that we are going to adopt tomorrow will be a very important contribution to the 18th International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Vienna later this month. There we can indeed emphasise how important it is that the European Union is going to work with those countries who still have laws and policies which are real obstacles to taking care of people who have HIV/AIDS. These are important obstacles in the prevention of this disease. In our resolution we state that there are still 106 countries of this kind. It is a major task in our foreign policy and our development policy to emphasise that we need evidence-based approaches to HIV/AIDS.
We should deal with prejudiced ideas and discrimination that still exist. It is very sad to see that many countries still criminalise same-sexual behaviour. We have to tell these countries that it is not something that can be adopted on the basis of traditions and culture. It is about treating human beings in a decent way, it is about their rights, and the rights-based approach is the right one.
Marisa Matias, em nome do Grupo GUE/NGL. – Senhora Presidente, Senhora Comissária, repetimo-nos todos, afinal, porque nunca é de mais dizê-lo. Em 2008, 2 400 000 novos casos de pessoas portadoras de sida, em 2008 também dois milhões de mortes, e todos os anos o número a aumentar. Hoje são 33 400 000 pessoas, e é uma estimativa. Dois terços – repito – dois terços destas pessoas não têm sequer acesso a tratamento. Falamos de uma doença cuja maior incidência é inversamente proporcional ao acesso ao tratamento, e estima-se que na África Subsariana estejam mais de 22 milhões do total de pessoas infectadas.
Mas há ainda outras desproporções: por exemplo, a infecção nas mulheres, que continua a ser muito superior. É urgente, hoje, como já era ontem e anteontem, apostar mesmo na prevenção, no acesso ao tratamento e numa resposta cuja base seja a dos direitos humanos.
Apelamos à Comissão e ao Conselho para que assumam os compromissos declarados e olhem para a SIDA como uma prioridade global da saúde pública. Precisamos, por isso, de políticas de redução da vulnerabilidade e de combate a vários tipos de discriminação, desde as pessoas infectadas até dentro do próprio espaço europeu, de dadores de sangue só porque têm uma orientação sexual diferente da norma. Por isso, os apoios existentes têm-se mostrado claramente insuficientes, há que reforçar o Fundo Global para a Luta contra a SIDA, Tuberculose e Malária, e é preciso reconhecer que o corte generalizado no financiamento de programas de saúde sexual e reprodutiva nos países em desenvolvimento só agravou a situação.
Esta Europa que nos orgulhamos de ser campeã em termos de ajuda ao desenvolvimento não pode ter duas caras, e é de todos nós que estamos a falar.
Seán Kelly (PPE). - Madam President, I would like to compliment Baroness Ashton for her good work in getting to grips with her brief. In the very short time she has been here today she has acquitted herself very well.
My experience of HIV/AIDS goes back to a couple of years ago, when I worked on a voluntary basis in Malawi. I saw there at first hand the devastation of HIV/AIDS amongst children, amongst adults. It is a country of 12 million people, with a life expectancy of 42 years and one of the highest prevalences of HIV/AIDS in the world, with almost three quarters of a million children suffering from HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that 86 000 people die per year from it, and another 80 000 at least get HIV/AIDS annually.
Only 50% off those who need ART have access to it, so an awful lot needs to be done. Three things must be done. One, medical care: firstly to try and prevent it, secondly to treat it when it occurs. Secondly, education: so, again, people will know how to prevent it and also have a more compassionate attitude to those who have contracted it. Thirdly – and Baroness Ashton referred to this – the elimination of certain practices based on the rights of certain mere individuals within tribes who have free access to do as they will with young girls and widowed women. This has to stop, and that has to be brought home to the tribes themselves. I think through the EU we might help in eliminating that traditional practice.
Finally, I also want to say that, in doing that, we need to work with the authorities on the ground. One thing I did notice in Malawi: I used to buy the paper every day, and I read several articles which were critical of NGOs because of their failure to work in conjunction with local groups. So to avoid what would be seen as intellectual or cultural colonialism, we work with the people to ensure them a better life and also to eliminate this scourge of HIV/AIDS.
Ulrike Lunacek (Verts/ALE). - Madam President, I am very happy that we will have a common resolution, hopefully with the votes of a large majority of this Parliament, on this resolution. It is – as has been said – in the preparation of the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna – which is my home town – and which has as its topic, ‘right here, right now’. It is about a rights-based approach to HIV and AIDS, something that has been missing in the past. As we all know – and as has been said by all of the speakers here – that HIV and AIDS leads to the fact that people affected by it – people infected – are seen as people sidelined. They are marginalised. They are not seen as somebody who is in the mainstream of society. This is the need: to make them the focus of attention, the focus of prevention and the focus of health care.
I would like to remind everybody that even the WTO, in its Doha Declaration in 2001 on TRIPS, made it clear that primacy of health has to come before commercial interests, which is especially important in countries like Africa, where 60% of people infected are women and girls – those who traditionally have less access to health care and have less money. So the whole issue of patenting medicine, of making medicine available for poor people – poor sections of the population – is key in the struggle against AIDS and HIV infection. As has been said before, women and girls are more affected now than at the beginning of the epidemic, when it was mostly gay men. But it is not a disease that mostly affects gay men any more. In the world context, it is mostly women and girls who are affected – and men as well.
So I ask everybody – and I really plead to those who have not signed up for the declaration – to vote in favour tomorrow, to make it clear that sexual and reproductive health and rights are for everybody, and especially those affected by HIV and AIDS.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE) - AIDS je stále smrtiacou chorobou, a napriek pokroku v medicíne ešte stále zabíja milióny obyvateľov planéty. Vírus HIV napáda imunitný systém tak, že pacient zomiera skôr alebo neskôr na inú infekciu, napríklad tuberkulózu alebo inú interkurentnú infekciu.
Drvivá väčšina ľudí sa podľa epidemiologických štúdií nakazí počas nechráneného pohlavného styku inou infikovanou osobou.
Hovorme si však pravdu. Kto sú tie infikované osoby a zaznelo to už, myslím dnes, myslím si, že sú to najčastejšie sexuálni pracovníci/pracovníčky, ktorí majú denné mnohopočetné styky, často bez použitia akejkoľvek ochrany. Oni sú potom semenišťom roznášania choroby a nebuďme naivní, že v predstave, že nejaké také častejšie lekárske prehliadky, napríklad jedenkrát týždenne, niečo vyriešia.
Ako lekár hovorím, ako odborník viem, že keď niekoho prezriete v pondelok a má ďalšiu kontrolu o týždeň, tak medzitým sa nakazí a je už on sám zdrojom infekcie.
Ďalšou rizikovou skupinou tak, ako pán Cashman predtým povedal, sú občania, ktorí sú sexuálni pracovníci, často s rovnakou sexuálnou orientáciou. Ako vieme v tejto komunite existuje, pretože táto komunita je uzavretá, menšia, existuje časté striedanie partnerov, a je tiež otázkou času, kedy sa v tejto komunite títo ľudia nakazia.
Musíme preto niečo robiť, som za výskum nových liekov, samozrejme antiretrovírusové lieky sú často nie celkom účinné a verím, že v rámci siedmeho rámcového programu pre vedu a výskum, ktorý Európa veda tiež podporuje, nájdeme nové molekuly, ktoré práve zabezpečia liečbu týchto infikovaných osôb.
Mám tu ešte veľa poznámok. Som za to, aby sme ako Európa hodne pomáhali Afrike. Afrike, pretože tam sú milióny ľudí najmä v subsaharskej oblasti a je našou morálnou povinnosťou Afrike pomôcť.
PRÉSIDENCE DE MME ISABELLE DURANT Vice-présidente
Salvatore Iacolino (PPE). - Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, non v'è dubbio che oggi più che mai l'Aids continua a essere una minaccia per la salute, non soltanto dei cittadini europei. Ogni anno muoiono migliaia e migliaia di persone e questo problema è ancora più avvertito nelle comunità cosiddette in via di sviluppo.
Per questo non bisogna abbassare la guardia, per questo ci vuole certamente più prevenzione, ci vuole più informazione, ci vuole più riabilitazione, ma ci vogliono soprattutto più risorse, bisogna fare in modo che queste risorse vengano utilizzate in maniera adeguata. Ci vuole un sostegno nei confronti delle famiglie, perché il problema del malato di Aids diventa un problema delle famiglie, e bisogna agire perché una serie di comportamenti, di stili di vita siano più sani e più appropriati. L'obiettivo è quello di avere un risultato di salute misurabile, l'obiettivo concreto di fare in modo che queste problematiche nel tempo vadano a ridursi sempre in misura crescente.
Angelika Werthmann (NI). - Frau Präsidentin! Der Großteil der Neuinfektionen betraf in den letzten Jahren die 15- bis 24-Jährigen. Es sind besonders die jungen Menschen, die das potenzielle Risiko einer Infektion unterschätzen. Dies ist auf die Unwissenheit über die Krankheit zurückzuführen. Sie sind zu jung, um sich an die Informationskampagnen der 80er Jahre zu erinnern, und der Aufklärungsunterricht ist kein obligatorischer Bestandteil des Lehrplans an den Schulen.
Eine Eurobarometer-Umfrage von 2005 ergab, dass die meisten europäischen Bürger und Bürgerinnen eine stärkere Beteiligung der EU an der HIV/AIDS-Bekämpfung befürworten würden. Diese Umfrage zeigt aber auch das Problem der Halbwahrheiten auf, die in der Bevölkerung immer noch verbreitet sind. Neue Kampagnen müssen gestartet werden, um die sehr unterschiedlichen Zielgruppen angemessen zu informieren, auch um eine erneute Stigmatisierung der Infizierten zu vermeiden.
Γεώργιος Παπανικολάου (PPE). - Κυρία Πρόεδρε, το είπε και η κ. Werthmann προηγουμένως: Παρότι 33 εκατομμύρια περίπου άνθρωποι παγκοσμίως είναι σήμερα φορείς του θανατηφόρου ιού, πολλοί είναι εκείνοι, ιδίως οι νέοι άνθρωποι, οι οποίοι δεν γνωρίζουν τους κινδύνους που συνεπάγεται η έλλειψη προσοχής και είναι πολύ μεγάλη ανάγκη να συνεχίσουμε τις εκστρατείες ενημέρωσης· πράγματι, η ένταση που υπήρχε στο παρελθόν δεν υπάρχει σήμερα.
Ένα δεύτερο σημείο στο οποίο πρέπει να δώσουμε τη δέουσα προσοχή είναι η καταπολέμηση του κοινωνικού αποκλεισμού που εγκυμονεί η γνωστοποίηση της μόλυνσης και που έχει ως αποτέλεσμα το 30% περίπου των ατόμων στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση που πάσχουν να μη γνωρίζουν ότι είναι φορείς, με αποτέλεσμα να αυξάνεται ο κίνδυνος της μετάδοσης.
Με γνώμονα αυτούς τους δύο στόχους, πρέπει ο ιός να αντιμετωπιστεί ως παγκόσμια προτεραιότητα υγείας. Η Επιτροπή και το Συμβούλιο πρέπει να δράσουν υπεύθυνα και να προωθήσουν τη χρηματοδότηση προγραμμάτων (είναι καθοριστικό αυτό), να δοθεί έμφαση στην καθοδήγηση και ενημέρωση των νέων και, τέλος, το κοινό να ευαισθητοποιηθεί και να ενημερωθεί σωστά, προκειμένου να μειωθεί σημαντικά ο κοινωνικός αποκλεισμός.
Catherine Ashton, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Madam President, I begin by saying that I am confident that the Vienna Conference will help us to move forward in enforcing the rights of people to be protected against avoidable HIV infections and in gaining access to the evidence-based prevention and highly efficient treatment that so many honourable Members have referred to this evening.
I want to assure you as well that we will maintain and increase our dedication to defending these rights inside Europe, but also as part of our relations with third countries whether they are close to our borders or on other continents. Unfortunately I will be in the Middle East, so I will not be able to participate in the Vienna Conference, but my colleague Commissioner Dalli, who of course carries a portfolio for health and consumer policy, will represent the European Commission and will speak at the opening session of the Conference.
Many services of the Commission from different sectors in health, research and development will attend and, if I may, I would like to extend an invitation to any honourable Members participating in the Conference to meet with the services in the EU area where policies and actions that we take in the EU will be presented, or indeed to join the satellite sessions which are being organised by the Commission.
If I may, I will conclude my remarks by doing something that honourable Members have also done in this debate. My personal story of this starts by remembering that there has been an important football match in South Africa tonight. I recall that when I was in South Africa a few years ago I was taken for a drive outside of Johannesburg up into the country. The person driving me was talking about the problems of HIV and AIDS in South Africa – an issue which has been taken up by many people and not least by someone I have had the privilege of working with, Annie Lennox, the singer.
As we drove through the countryside the driver said, ‘pick a village, pick any village that you like in the next hour’. We drove along and I said I saw many villages but I would choose that one. I pointed to a village, we drove into the village and he drove me to the graveyard. He said that in Africa the tradition is that you do not lay the headstone for one year after the death of a person, so any crosses that you see, small crosses, represent people who have died within the last year. I went to this graveyard and there were hundreds of them. He said to me very simply: those are the victims of AIDS.
Honourable Members, what I saw was the tragedy of an unnecessary devastation and I pay tribute to the honourable Members who have put forward this resolution and promise to do my best to support its implementation.
La Présidente. - J'ai reçu, conformément à l'article 110, paragraphe 2, du règlement six propositions de résolution.(1)Le débat est clos.
Le vote aura lieu jeudi 8 juillet 2010.
Déclarations écrites (article 149)
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), în scris. – Numărul persoanelor seropozitive continuă să crească, estimările arătând că, la nivel mondial, 33,4 milioane de persoane sunt infectate cu HIV/SIDA, dintre care nu mai puţin de 2,7 milioane au fost infectate în 2008.
Consider că atât Comisia Europeană cât şi Consiliul trebuie să îşi intensifice eforturile de a aborda problema HIV/SIDA ca pe o prioritate de sănătate publică la nivel mondial, acordând un loc central drepturilor omului în prevenirea şi tratamentul acestei boli şi în îngrijirea şi asistenţa acordată persoanelor afectate. Aceste două instituţii trebuie să încurajeze ţările cele mai afectate de virusul HIV şi SIDA să pună bazele unor cadre naţionale de politică împotriva HIV coordonate, care să garanteze eficienţa măsurilor de prevenire şi îngrijire în caz de îmbolnăvire cu HIV.
Atât Comisia Europeană cât şi statele membre, precum şi comunitatea internaţională, trebuie să adopte cât mai rapid legislaţia prin care să fie asigurat accesul la medicamente eficiente şi accesibile pentru tratarea virusului HIV, la diagnosticare şi la tehnologiile de îngrijire preventivă, curativă şi paliativă a infecţiei cu HIV.
John Attard-Montalto (S&D), in writing. – It is important to prepare well for this crucial conference especially with a view to how to reduce the enormous cost of pills administered to affected parties. In Malta the importers of medicinal products and the Nationalist Parliamentary Secretary have agreed to reduce the price of 63 medicinal products. It is astounding when there are over 3 000 medicinal products that are distributed in Malta. This means that only 2% have actually been targeted. Amongst the medicines which have been reduced in price two were taken as examples forwarded to the Commission comparing the exorbitant prices in Malta and Belgium. Zocor 20mg has been reduced, but it is still 240% more expensive in Malta than it is in Belgium. From the other examples provided all remain more expensive in Malta the highest being Tegretol 200 mg, which is 150% higher in price, and Lexotan 3 mg – 113% higher. The lowest is Actonel 35, which is 20 % higher in Malta. The fact that medicines have started to decrease in price, although not enough, only illustrates how right we have been not to accept the excuses put forward by a number of medicine providers. Let us hope that this is only the beginning in achieving our aim.