Developing Countries Call for Greater Foreign Assistance from Richer Nations to Fight HIV/AIDS
Leaders of the world's "49 least developed countries," while "admitting past failures of their own," on Monday called on richer countries to increase assistance programs to poorer nations, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, Newsday reports. Speaking at the Special Event on the Challenge of Eradicating Poverty for Sustainable Development at the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Brussels, speakers advocated a "full debt cancellation" and increased foreign aid to the 49 countries. According to the United Nations, foreign aid to these nations has declined 45% since 1990. In two previous conferences on poverty in 1981 and 1990, wealthier nations pledged to "devote 0.7% of [their] gross national product to development aid," but Newsday reports that "most" of these countries have "reduced their foreign aid budgets" since then. Alpha Oumar Konare, president of Mali, said, "We need more resources and resources that can be made available immediately." His plea was echoed by French President Jacques Chirac, who said, "The unconscionable situation with which the world gets ever richer and the poor remain poor can and must be ended." However, Andrew Natsios, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that political considerations as well as economics played a role in levels of foreign assistance, adding that the "lack of strong democratic institutions and systems to make sure money is spent properly is the biggest reason for failure" (Newsday, 5/15).
Brundtland Urges Greater Action
World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said on Monday that "the international community needs to do more, urgently, to fight HIV/AIDS," the AP/Canadian Press reports. "We cannot wait another decade while HIV/AIDS affects more and more people from Africa, China, India, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe," she said. Brundtland also praised the pharmaceutical companies for "showing willingness to work with AIDS activists," citing "widespread relief" surrounding the decision last month by 39 pharmaceutical companies to drop a patent infringement lawsuit against South Africa (AP/Canadian Press, 5/15).