Economist Jeffrey Sachs Lays Out Plan for Fighting AIDS in Africa
At the opening of the 8th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, "world-renowned economist" Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard University's Center for International Development called on the Bush administration to pledge support in the fight against AIDS in Africa, saying the "consequences will be devastating" for the United States if no action is taken, MSNBC.com reports. "AIDS will collapse societies. We'll see mass emigrations, conflicts," Sachs said, adding that the emergence of coexisting infections that could "hitch a ride on any cross-Atlantic flight" would "leave us exposed to a seething cauldron of pathogens with horrific global risks, a reckless gamble." A comprehensive prevention and treatment program against the disease in Africa would cost $5 per American per year, Sachs said, yet developed countries spend only $75 million per year to fight AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. "All we need is spending change, teeny tiny amounts compared to the proposed tax cuts. Yet no effort is being made, we are sitting by complacently, as millions of Africans die," he added, proposing the following "practical steps:"
- First, the United States and other wealthy nations declare they will fund antiretroviral drugs in the poorest countries if drug efficacy is demonstrated. Such drugs would exclude the "expensive and potent" protease inhibitors, bringing the program price tag to $5 billion for both prevention and treatment with effective older drug cocktails.
- Pharmaceutical companies would then agree to supply the drugs at cost, a commitment drug makers "are willing to make" based on his discussions with firm leaders.
- Next, the World Bank would initiate trials in two African nations to "test the feasibility of the program," and expand the program throughout Africa if proven feasible.