The final shipment of AIDS medication to leave Canada on compassionate grounds to continue treatment for more than 21,000 people with AIDS will arrive in Africa today.

Activists fear this is the end of the road for Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) — legislation brought forward by the federal Liberals five years ago to ship cheaply priced generic medication to needy countries fighting AIDS — unless changes are made to what critics say is a cumbersome process.

“I just don’t understand why a government would be so, so unjust to stand in the way,” Stephen Lewis, the former United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said from his Toronto home. “Now that the NDP seems to be supporting the government, maybe there could be a quid pro quo.”

There are currently two bills before Parliament, one in the House of Commons and the other in the Senate, that could streamline the drug approval process generic drug makers argue is too tedious to work.

The CAMR was created five years ago with all-party support.

Only Rwanda has requested medicine under the program, which is enough to treat 21,000 patients for two years.

Access to medicine: Canada’s dilemma
• The problem: Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime was created five years ago to send affordable generic medication to poor countries battling AIDS, but only one country, Rwanda, has received medication through the process, which critics say is too cumbersome.

• The solution: Two private member’s resolutions, one in the House of Commons and another in the Senate, would help streamline the process. The minority Conservative government opposes the bills.