‘NewsHour’ Begins Weeklong Series on AIDS in Africa with Malawi Report, Annan Interview
"NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" last night featured an interview with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in which he discussed his proposal for a $7 billion to $10 billion international fund to fight AIDS in developing countries. When asked by correspondent Elizabeth Farnsworth if the $200 million President Bush has pledged toward a global AIDS fund was "enough," Annan said, "I think as the president himself said, this was a fund contribution and there is probably some more to come. Obviously, our target is to get $7 billion to $10 billion additional money applied to the epidemic, and I would hope that the president's action [Friday] would energize other leaders and other people in society to come on board. ... But I think we launched it [Friday], and I think it was an important beginning." When asked who will administer the fund, Annan said, "We will have a board that will oversee the money and [m]ake the decisions. The board will include representatives from donor governments, from recipient governments, a civil society, including those organizations fighting the AIDS epidemic, people from the private sector and the international organization[s]. There will be a small secretariat attached to this ... that will do the day-to-day administration. But the funds will be handled by the World Bank; they will do the banking responsibilities. And of course there will be a scientific advisory body attached to it to ensure that we are aiming for the right result and ... we would ensure that we are effective and we are getting value for money." Responding to Farnsworth's question regarding how the funds will be divided between programs such as prevention and antiretroviral drugs, Annan said, "I think we are setting up a single global fund with several windows. It will be a fund for AIDS and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, as well as malaria. I have no doubt that some governments will target their contribution [to be] used only for AIDS. Others may want it used for tuberculosis. And I hope others will give us flexibility to use our funds as we see fit. ... [T]he quality of those programs will play a role. ... [W]e will give the money to those programs that we believe ... are likely to be most effective." Annan said that the next step in setting up the global fund will come at the June U.N. General Assembly special session on AIDS in New York. "I hope between now and then governments will have time to determine how much they are going to contribute to the fund. ... [T]he G8, they're meeting at the end of July, [and] would also be taking up this issue. ... I trust ... and urge that they all pay into one fund," Annan said.
Leadership a Must
Annan said that he feels there has been a "great sea change" in raising awareness and mobilizing world leaders on this issue in the last year. "We need leadership all across from the North and South, and so I was very encouraged by the strong support of President Bush for this effort. And I have reason to believe that all the leaders in Europe and others will come on board. In fact, President [Jacques] Chirac of France made a strong statement [Friday] morning supporting the approach and the fund" after the donation announcement in Washington, Annan said.
Drugs and Intellectual Property
On the topic of drug manufacturers and intellectual property rights, Annan said that President Bush's message was that the "intellectual property regime has to be respected so the pharmaceutical companies will have the incentive to continue their research to produce medication, cure and vaccine[s] for diseases like AIDS." Although Annan has spoken to the pharmaceutical companies and understands the incentive argument, he said that "we should be able to buy generic medication, and we should be able to offer treatment to those who have been hardest hit by the disease" (Farnsworth, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 5/14). To read the full interview transcript, click here. To listen to the interview, click here. Note: You must have RealPlayer to listen to the report.
Malawi Struggles with Epidemic
"NewsHour" also re-aired its April 25 segment on Malawi's AIDS epidemic. Correspondent Elizabeth Farnsworth traveled to the country to "grasp the scope of the AIDS catastrophe engulfing southern Africa" (Farnsworth, "NewsHour," PBS, 4/25). To read a full transcript of her report, click here. To listen to the report in RealAudio, click here. Note: You must have RealPlayer to listen to the report.