Members of Congress, NGOs, Pop Stars Call on Bush to Appropriate $1.2B in Emergency Spending to International AIDS Fund
More than 70 members of Congress, 130 non-governmental organizations and 35 pop stars yesterday urged President Bush and Congress to earmark $1.2 billion in emergency funds for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The United States has so far contributed $250 million to the fund, which is estimated to need between $7 billion and $10 billion annually. Speaking at a press conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday to announce the effort, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who has spearheaded the movement for more money in the House, said, "Today, we present an opportunity for the United States to further its commitment to [fighting HIV/AIDS in the developing world] by providing more resources to the global AIDS fund." More than 60 members of the House have signed a letter to Bush, proposed by Lee, asking that the emergency appropriation be made this fiscal year. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has lead a similar campaign in the Senate. Yesterday, Leahy cited the severity of the international AIDS crisis when calling on Bush and his congressional colleagues to give the fight against disease the "priority it deserves." Leahy noted that the United States has "responded with great urgency to the attacks of Sept. 11th, but we and the world have yet to mobilize to combat AIDS, the worst public health emergency in half a millenium. Far more resources are needed to prevent the deaths of tens of millions of people."
AIDS Threatens Security, Stability
More than 130 non-governmental organizations, including the Global AIDS Alliance, the African Faith and Justice Network, the American Nurses Association and Physicians for Human Rights, also sent letters to Bush requesting emergency aid. "Those of us working in Africa to stop AIDS welcome this determined effort, which all Americans should join," Chatinkha Nkhoma, Africa program director for GAA, said. The GAA also noted that the Central Intelligence Agency has listed AIDS and other infectious diseases as a "major threat to stability and security" in affected regions, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, where TB is prevalent.
Africa is AIDS 'Ground Zero'
Thirty-five recording artists affiliated with Artists Against AIDS Worldwide also sent letters to members of Congress asking them to join Lee and Leahy's campaign. The artists, including Bono of U2, Destiny's Child, Britney Spears and Wyclef Jean, recently recorded several renditions of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" to benefit AIDS programs in Africa and the Sept. 11th fund. Gaye's daughter, actress and singer Nona Gaye, said that the song should serve as a "wake up call to President Bush and our Congress" (Global AIDS Alliance release, 11/7). Gaye, speaking at the press conference yesterday on Capitol Hill, said the "real issue is that AIDS has been a major pandemic for years now," adding that Africa was "ground zero" for the epidemic (Grove, Washington Post, 11/8).