February 2, 2004
In response to the nearly stagnant global HIV/AIDS spending proposed in the fiscal year 2005 budget submitted to the U.S. Congress earlier today, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) is urging U.S. President George W. Bush and congressional leaders to shore up funding aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in the developing world.
While acknowledging that the total FY04 funding of US$2.4 billion recently approved by the U.S. Congress and the Bush Administration's FY05 request of US$2.7 billion are both significant increases from FY03 spending, IAPAC expressed concern that the request still does not meet the tremendous global need.
"President Bush has done a great service to the world by making international HIV/AIDS and associated diseases a priority for his administration," said IAPAC President/CEO Jose M. Zuniga. "I fear, however, that current monetary contributions of the United States, and all wealthy nations, are not sufficient to turn the tide in this struggle. More leadership is needed in alleviating a global health crisis that, despite the existence of effective treatment and prevention, will kill tens of millions in coming decades."
Further, Zuniga called on the Bush Administration to explain its rationale for cutting the portion of international HIV relief dedicated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria from US$550 million in FY04 to US$200 million in FY05. Given U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson's chairmanship of the Global Fund, IAPAC noted this funding retreat as a particularly discouraging action.
"If the Bush Administration has concerns about the effectiveness of this and other multilateral initiatives, they are better to articulate them, and to work with the global community to find appropriate remedies, as opposed to hastily withdrawing support from this promising institution," Zuniga said. "At the same time, I urge the Global Fund to step up its efforts to hold its grantees accountable and to demonstrate how and where its contributions have had an impact -- this would go a long way toward allaying lingering concerns that the United States and other donor countries may have."
Zuniga also noted that while U.S. bilateral initiatives have the potential to advance critical life-saving and -enhancing work through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), they are to be concentrated in 14 countries, and leave out several with emerging HIV catastrophes -- such as China and India -- that may benefit from multilateral assistance of the type offered by the Global Fund.