Powell Defends U.S. International Policies, Including HIV/AIDS Funding, at World Summit on Sustainable Development
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell today defended U.S. foreign policy, including international HIV/AIDS funding, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, the AP/Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports (Nessman, AP/Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 9/4). In a speech at the 10-day conference's closing session, Powell was interrupted by jeers from civic groups as he spoke. He said that the Bush administration has "stepped up" its support of development in Africa by advocating expanded trade, tying foreign aid to "progressive political reform" and helping establish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Ross, Associated Press, 9/4). Powell said that no matter how much funding the U.S. government supplies for different environmental and health initiatives, "people will comment on the United States and occasionally criticize us for not doing even more" (Dow Jones International News, 9/4).
Mandela Calls HIV/AIDS 'Forgotten Issue'
In related news, former South African President Nelson Mandela said yesterday that HIV/AIDS had become a "forgotten issue" at the summit and warned that sustainable development is not possible without first addressing the disease, Reuters reports. "AIDS is very important precisely because it attacks the most economically active segment of the population. It can destroy [a] country's economy," Mandela said after a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson (Schuettler, Reuters, 9/3). Mandela added that European nations that had accumulated wealth by "exploiting former colonial countries" have an obligation to contribute money for fighting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS in their former dependents (South African Press Association, 9/4). AIDS activists have complained that HIV/AIDS has received "scant attention" during the summit, despite the fact that health was one of the summit's five key topic areas. Activists also hoped that the issue would receive greater attention because the meeting was being held in South Africa, the country with the highest number of HIV-positive people in the world at 4.74 million. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot this week urged delegates to include a "full-scale attack on AIDS" in the conference's final document, and asked nations to increase global HIV/AIDS spending to $10 billion annually (Reuters, 9/3).
Kaisernetwork.org's HealthCast will feature some sessions from the summit. Daily Report readers will be alerted when the video is available online.