Opinion Piece, Editorial React To Lancet Article on WHO, Global Fund and Malaria Treatment
If the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cannot "get it right" in its policy on malaria drugs, as suggested by a recent article in the Lancet, "one wonders if it can sustain decent AIDS treatment," Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, and Roger Bate, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, write in a Washington Times opinion piece. The authors of the Lancet article -- a "who's who of the malaria research world" -- attribute rising malaria rates to the World Health Organization's "policy failure[s]" and to the Global Fund's funding the purchase of "ineffective drugs," Tren and Bate say. Although both WHO and the Global Fund seem "loathe to buy patented drugs, whether for malaria control or AIDS ... buying off-patent drugs that don't work is unacceptable," Tren and Bate say. In addition, "AIDS activists and Democrats" who criticize Bush for his "miserly funding" of WHO and the Global Fund should concede that Bush is "right to retain control" of foreign aid because it is "far from certain" that the agencies "can be trusted," Tren and Bate say, concluding that Bush and African health ministers should "take the health bureaucrats" of WHO and the Global Fund "to task" over their "negligent [malaria] policies" (Tren/Bate, Washington Times, 1/19).
Bush Administration Should 'Reconsider' Funding
The Bush administration should "reconsider" allocating money from the global AIDS initiative to the Global Fund, "given how it has bungled the malaria epidemic," a Wall Street Journal editorial says. It is "well known" that "activist groups" like the Global Fund and WHO "frown on patent law and would rather employ off-patent medicines or cheap knockoffs," even though the "whole purpose of the Global Fund is to pay for the more expensive treatments that poor countries can't afford," the editorial says. Because the United States "fund[s] the world's drug research ... it makes little sense for us to give money to anti-patent organizations that would undermine the property laws and protections that lead to new and better therapies," the editorial says. Therefore, the Bush administration should consider attaching a "requirement" to Global Fund contributions stating "that the money not be used on patent-breaking medications -- let alone ineffective off-patent treatments," the editorial says, adding, "Better still, the U.S. could encourage more public-private partnerships," such as a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and drug maker Merck, which has funded antiretroviral treatment in Botswana. The editorial concludes, "Mr. Bush has every right to demand that organizations like the Global Fund do better with U.S. tax dollars or do without them" (Wall Street Journal, 1/21).