Op-Eds Address International Economic Policies’ Effects on Fight Against AIDS in Africa
As U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and rock star Bono leave today for a 10-day tour of Africa, two opinion pieces and an editorial address the issue of the United States' economic role in fighting AIDS in Africa. Summaries of the pieces appear below:
- Salih Booker, Los Angeles Times: "The failure to resolve Africa's debt crisis means thousands more lives lost needlessly every day to AIDS and poverty," Africa Action Executive Director Salih Booker writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, adding that O'Neill should return from his African tour with the resolution to help cancel the continent's debt. Booker states that large debts make it impossible for many African leaders to keep their promise of spending 15% of their budgets on health. Many African nations are "forced to pay nearly $15 billion a year to foreign creditors," and such debts are "a crippling barrier to action against AIDS or progress against poverty on any front," Booker writes. He says, "Instead of tinkering with a failed debt relief framework, it is time to write off the debt overhang." This strategy could be worked out by independent debt arbitration as previously proposed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, he states (Booker, Los Angeles Times, 5/20).
- Salih Booker, Albany Times Union: In a separate opinion piece, Booker states that the $1.2 billion that lawmakers may appropriate to global AIDS spending "still is not nearly enough." Booker says that the United States should provide $2.5 billion per year to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This allocation would be "modest" compared to the funding "quickly appropriated" in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, especially since the "war on AIDS is more important than the war on terrorism," Booker writes. "Strong U.S. leadership in funding the global war against AIDS could turn the tide. We need a world war against AIDS," Booker concludes (Booker, Albany Times Union, 5/20).
- Denver Rocky Mountain News: Boosting trade and exportation among African countries could help raise some of the funding needed to fight HIV/AIDS on the continent, a Denver Rocky Mountain News editorial states. Some analysts have estimated that if Africa increased its share of world trade by 1%, the continent would earn an extra $70 billion annually in exports. However, American domestic trade policies impede such advances, the editorial states. The United States "protects its domestic industry from African textiles, one of the few manufacturing fields where Africa could be competitive," and the "huge new farm bill" recently signed by President Bush "will price African exports out of the U.S. market and undercut them on the world market," the editorial says. "One short obvious answer to the problem of African poverty is trade. ... It would be a promising start if ... O'Neill would come back and say so," the editorial concludes (Denver Rocky Mountain News, 5/20).