Britain’s Lord Fowler Suggests Europe Appoint an HIV/AIDS Special Envoy
Britain should increase its commitment to fight HIV/AIDS at home and abroad, and the European Union should appoint an HIV/AIDS envoy with "ambassadorial rank," Britain's Lord Fowler on Thursday told peers in the House of Lords, London's Guardian reports. As health and social services secretary under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Norman Fowler led the "first official drive to educate Britain" about HIV/AIDS from 1986 to 1987, according to the Guardian. Fowler said that government ministers were "presiding over complacency and ignorance," which made it more difficult for Britain to influence other countries on the issue. Fowler called on the government to "do more" to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in Britain and abroad, help developing countries by providing more funding to fight the disease and urge pharmaceutical companies to provide low-cost antiretroviral drugs. "Even though the figures -- 23 million deaths and 13 million orphans -- are so self-evidently terrible, there is still a lack of concern, a lack of outrage and a lack of anger," Fowler said. The European Union should "match the U.S. commitment" made by President Bush to provide $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, including appointing an HIV/AIDS ambassador, he said. Britain should also give more than the pledged $200 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Fowler added. While he was health and social services secretary, Fowler promoted a "much-criticized" needle-exchange program for injection drug users. In his speech Thursday, he said such programs should be continued to help stem the spread of HIV. Fowler also cited the achievements of the Ugandan government in combating the disease (White, Guardian, 2/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.