Bush Administration Considering Increased Spending on AIDS in Africa, NPR Reports
Although there is "nothing new" on HIV/AIDS in the Bush administration's budget, there are "signals" that the administration is considering "a major initiative" to buy drugs and help countries "bootstrap their health systems up to the point where they can deliver these complicated treatments," NPR's "Weekend All Things Considered" reports. "One report this week indicates that at least internally, the administration acknowledges that a billion or two dollars is not out of the question for this purpose, and they know that major spending is going to be necessary," NPR health correspondent Richard Knox said. Knox named Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) as leading public advocates on the AIDS issue. When asked by host Lisa Simeone how AIDS activists are greeting recent "signs of significant movement" in the debate on AIDS drugs, including "very deep discounts" from pharmaceutical companies, Knox responded, "I would say they're energized. They have been working on this for a long, long time. And suddenly, things are happening on a broad front. But the ones I talked to also worry about getting beyond this current situation where you have, sort of, ad hoc and maybe public relations-motivated discounts on a drug by drug by drug basis. What they want is a permanent new system for pharmaceutical manufacturing and pricing for poorest nations." Knox said that "it's not just activists who are thinking this way," but organizations such as the WHO will establish AIDS drug pricing as "an emerging agenda item" in the months ahead. To listen to the full report in RealAudio, enter http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnpd01fm.cfm?PrgDate=03/17/2001&PrgID=6 into your Web browser and scroll down to the "AIDS" story (Knox, "Weekend All Things Considered," NPR, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.