AIDS Activists Call on U.S. President Bush to Deliver on Promises of $15 Billion to Fight the Disease
July 3, 2003
President Bush is doing far less to fight AIDS worldwide than his pledge that the United States would put $15 billion over five years into the effort implies, AIDS activists and development experts told journalists in a telephone conference Tuesday. They fear that Bush will use his upcoming five-day trip to Africa as a "victory lap" to celebrate the initiative. And they said Bush's choice of a former drug company chief to run the $15 billion program raises questions about conflicts of interest.Adapted from:
Bush begins his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa July 7, stopping in Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. He introduced his choice for Global AIDS coordinator Wednesday -- Randall Tobias, a former head of Eli Lilly & Company.
"We're calling for a full congressional investigation to make sure there is no kickback arrangement from the Bush administration to the pharmaceutical industry," said Paul Zeitz, head of the Washington-based Global AIDS Alliance.
Zeitz said that if the White House were serious about fighting AIDS, it would have asked Congress to release the full $3 billion earmarked for this year, including the $1 billion authorized for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Instead, it has asked for $2 billion, of which 75 percent would go directly for AIDS and $200 million would go to the Global Fund.
"They are cutting programs in other areas of health to make way for the meager first installment on the AIDS program," said Jeffrey Sachs, head of Columbia University's Earth Institute and special advisor to the United Nations on development. Sachs, an economist, said US aid to Africa is tiny compared to the country's wealth. "If we did anything at all [in Africa] on a plausible level, we could have a huge effect," he said. But, with Bush's coming trip, "what we are about to see is endless spin."
07.02.03; Barbara Borst
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.