U.N. Secretary General Calls on G8 To Direct More Aid To Eliminating Poverty, Disease, Including HIV/AIDS
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday sent a letter to the leaders of the countries in the G8, which is set to meet this weekend in Evian, France, calling for the nations to direct more aid to "the fight against world poverty and disease," including efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa, Reuters reports (Reuters, 5/29). In the letter, Annan pointed to Africa's "deadly triad" of food shortage, HIV/AIDS and an "emaciated capacity to govern," with "each feeding on the others." Annan wrote, "We must make a concerted effort to confront them all at once through an integrated approach. Otherwise we will not succeed in overcoming any of them." Annan called for a "concerted effort" to fight HIV/AIDS, which he said would only be viable if resources are made available. He added that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was established as an "efficient way for donors to ensure that such resources reach those who most need and can make best use of them. Sustained funding for [the fund] is a must." Annan also called on the G8 representatives to the World Trade Organization to fulfill the provisions of the Doha declaration to provide access to affordable medications (Annan letter, 5/29). WTO talks in Geneva over generic drug access have been stalled since members missed a Dec. 31, 2002, deadline to reach an agreement. U.S. negotiators in February refused to sign a deal under the Doha agreement to allow developing nations to override patent protections to produce generic versions of drugs to combat public health epidemics unless wording was included to specify which diseases constitute a public health epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/29). Annan said that since the declaration was agreed upon, "key deadlines have been missed, and there is now a grave danger" that the issues will not be resolved by the next ministerial meeting scheduled for September in Cancun, Mexico (Annan letter, 5/29).
New Donations Needed
Steven Radelet, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, speaking at a briefing yesterday said that President Bush will have "more leverage to press his counterparts to increase their contributions to fighting AIDS" because he signed the global AIDS bill (HR 1298) into law on Tuesday, according to a State Department release (State Department release, 5/29). The law authorizes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. In addition, it authorizes up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 for the Global Fund, but the amount actually appropriated is contingent upon the contributions of other countries. Under the measure, the United States can contribute up to $1 billion to the fund but only if that amount totals no more than one-third of the fund's total contributions. Therefore, in order for the total $1 billion to be appropriated, other nations must contribute more money (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/29). Some HIV/AIDS advocates and development agencies said that there are "strong signs" that the G8 leaders will "back away" from their commitments to the developing world, including the Global Fund, the Globe and Mail reports. A series of draft statements obtained by Medecins Sans Frontieres indicate "progressively weaker language about AIDS" and other diseases affecting the developing world, according to the Globe and Mail. Carol Devine, who works for MSF's Access to Essential Medicines campaign, said, "[W]e really hoped to see some serious leadership, especially on access to medicine. But these health issues are just being swept under the mat." U.N. Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said, "The key to the G8 are further pledges to the Global Fund. Unless there are very major commitments, it means the best new international initiative on AIDS we've had in the last several years is being strangled willfully." Many advocates believe that French President Jacques Chirac will announce France's contribution to the fund during the summit, and that the leaders of Great Britain, the European Community and "possibly" Germany could also make funding announcements, the Globe and Mail reports. Lewis said that new pledges to the fund would be "a godsend that would mean the Global Fund would come alive and function, and prove to the world that real progress can be made fighting AIDS"
(Nolen, Globe and Mail, 5/30).