AIDS Action Calls on President Bush to Continue Sub-Saharan Nations' Access to Life-Saving AIDS Drugs
January 26, 2001
Washington, D.C. -- According to press reports earlier this week, President George W. Bush is considering a reversal of the Clinton Administration's Executive Order making AIDS drugs more affordable to sub-Saharan African countries devastated by the AIDS crisis.
AIDS Action has written to President Bush asking him not to reverse the Order in order to save countless lives in countries that are both disproportionately poor and disproportionately affected by the AIDS pandemic.
"In his inaugural address, President Bush said that Americans are a compassionate people whose conscience will not tolerate deep and persistent poverty. In these first days of his new administration, President Bush has an extraordinary opportunity to address the high price of the AIDS pandemic on the world's poorest nations by keeping this Executive Order in place," said Claudia French, Executive Director of AIDS Action.
"The humanitarian tragedy of AIDS cannot be separated from its extraordinary cost. AIDS is the first wave in a flood of economic devastation that threatens to drown the developing world," French continued. "We have been encouraged by Secretary of State Colin Powell's interest in AIDS in Africa as a national security issue. We hope that President Bush will use every tool available -- economic, trade, and diplomatic policies as well as humanitarian aid -- to help these countries stop the spread of AIDS."
The Executive Order was issued by President Clinton in May 2000. HIV/AIDS medications remain financially unavailable to many of the nations that need them most. The Executive Order improves access to life-saving drugs by holding sub-Saharan nations to less stringent World Trade Organization patent recommendations.
Sub-Saharan Africa is in the midst of the worst plague the modern era has ever seen. Twenty-five million men, women, and children are living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. The cost of their treatment can be two to three times higher than the average GDP of some African countries, and easily outpaces the health budgets for many African nations. Nigeria, Tanzania, and Ghana each have health budgets of only $8 US per person, per year.
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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.