Sens. Clinton, Frist Introduce Bill to Expand International Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday proposed a bill "designed to improve coordination" among the Pentagon, HHS and Departments of State and Labor by authorizing $850 million in annual congressional spending through 2006 for fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing nations, Reuters Health reports. The "Global Leadership in Developing an Expanded Response Act," or GLIDER, would create a new AIDS medical corps to enable health care professionals to perform international AIDS work for up to two years overseas (Zwillich, Reuters Health, 7/25). The legislation also would expand and improve care; provide assistance to AIDS orphans and families; support infrastructure development; establish a database to facilitate the coordination process; and set up a task force to "ensure broad level policy discussions" among cooperating agencies. At a press conference on Tuesday, Clinton joined Frist, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and State Department Undersecretary for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky to introduce the bill, saying of the measure, "[T]here can be no alternative: the United States must continue to play a leading role in eradicating this global threat to health and security around the world. By improving hospice, palliative, and treatment services, we can help bring relief to the millions of people worldwide suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria" (Clinton release, 7/24).
To show an example of ongoing cooperation among U.S. organizations and African nations, Clinton highlighted the work of the New York-based Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa, saying that the group "set[s] an example" of the collaboration that the legislation encourages. The foundation -- which provides African hospices with vitamins, medical supplies and technical assistance -- works with developing nations in a way similar to the envisaged Health Care Corps, which would be modeled after the Peace Corps to recruit medical and social workers to work in a developing nation for one month to two years (Libbon, Syracuse Newspapers, 7/25). Thompson mentioned the possible creation of a "volunteer medical corps in Africa" at a Republican breakfast meeting in June, but HHS spokesperson William Pierce said at the time that "[t]here are no specific or explicit details" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/10). At the Tuesday press conference, Thompson said, "Governments can devote hundreds of millions of dollars, create countless programs and set policy, but it is the commitment of individuals who will truly make a difference in this struggle" (Clinton release, 7/24).