Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials, Opinion Pieces on Global AIDS Funding
Several newspapers this week have published editorials and opinion pieces on funding for AIDS treatment and prevention programs following the U.N. General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS on Monday. Summaries of the pieces appear below:
Contra Costa Times: Allocating $1 billion less than anticipated, especially in the first year of the U.S. global AIDS initiative, "will do little to implement the strong counter-attack needed against this disease," a Contra Costa Times editorial says. In addition, "[i]n the wider scheme of global politics, it can damage the credibility of the United States in poverty-stricken countries, creating fertile breeding grounds for anti-U.S. terrorists," the editorial says. The Times concludes that when the appropriations bill goes to conference soon, lawmakers should restore the aid to the full $3 billion authorized for the first year of the initiative (Contra Costa Times, 9/23).
Long Island Newsday: The World Health Organization's announcement that it plans to initiate an "ambitious program" to treat three million people with antiretroviral drugs by 2005 makes it appear that "after an eternity of diplomatic hand-wringing, ... the war against AIDS just might turn serious in sub-Saharan Africa," a Newsday editorial says. However, WHO needs help, and unless the world "digs deeper into its pockets, the solid plan the WHO has outlined will fail," the editorial concludes (Long Island Newsday, 9/23).
Los Angeles Times: Despite promises of fully funding the AIDS initiative, Bush has pressed Congress to support only $2 billion of the $3 billion authorized for the first year of the program, with only $200 million for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a one-third reduction from the fiscal year 2003 U.S. contribution, a Times editorial says. Bush's insistence on these funding levels and on requirements that the money go to the 14 nations of his choice "reflects stubborn attitudes like those seen in the U.N.-Iraq row," the editorial says. "[I]s it fair to give short shrift to people who, through no fault of their own, live in countries that fall short of Bush's ideals?" the Times asks. The editorial concludes that it is "no time to reinvent the wheel when 40 million people live with HIV"; the U.S. should donate at least $1 billion to the Global Fund (Los Angeles Times, 9/24).
Philadelphia Inquirer: "Fine words alone won't buy relief for AIDS victims," and the "contrast between Bush's statements and his actions is not easily ignored," an Inquirer editorial says. The president's global AIDS plan "undercuts" the Global Fund "through a new, duplicative U.S. administrative structure," and he has recommended only $2 billion of the $3 billion "that should have been offered this year," the editorial says, concluding that the "missing" $1 billion should be added when the Senate Appropriations Committee considers Bush's $87 billion supplemental request for the war in Iraq (Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/24).
- Joseph Dolman, Long Island Newsday: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan this week "threw aside 20 years worth of diplomatic argle-bargle and blurted out God's ugly truth about the war against AIDS ... [that] the fight to defeat the virus was failing," Dolman, a Newsday columnist writes in an opinion piece. The "new tactic of vigorous candor" could be regarded as a "watershed moment" because Annan "coupled his remarks with a refreshingly gutsy" plan to provide antiretroviral drugs to three million people by 2005, Dolman says. However, the success of the program however depends on whether WHO, which has "tended to move at a civilized diplomatic pace," can "shake off its bureaucratic lethargy" and whether the United States, Europe, other nations and private donors can provide the necessary funds, Dolman concludes (Dolman, Long Island Newsday, 9/24).
- Nikki Kallio, Portland Press Herald: "It's probably not the best time to ask Congress to spend more money, what with the president's jumbo (but necessary) $87 billion [supplemental request for the war in Iraq] and all," Kallio, an editorial writer for the Press Herald, says in an opinion piece. Kallio asks, "What about, though, asking [Congress] not to cut funding that's already been promised?" In order to "fix" Bush's concerns that there are not enough clinics to absorb the full $3 billion for the first year of the initiative, part of the money could be used for "strengthening the health care delivery system in Africa, thus reaching more people and saving more lives," Kallio says, concluding that if the economic impact of AIDS is "not enough to justify spending the money," we should consider how AIDS spending can help avert terrorism (Kallio, Portland Press Herald, 9/24).