U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Calls on Nations To Fund WHO’s 3 by 5 Initiative
U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis at a press briefing in New York on Wednesday said that the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative is the "best chance we've had in more than 20 years to turn the [HIV/AIDS] pandemic around," the Toronto Star reports (Ross, Toronto Star, 3/4). WHO's $5.5 billion plan, which aims to treat three million HIV-positive people by 2005, calls for training 100,000 health care workers, refocusing 10,000 clinics in developing countries to treat HIV/AIDS and using common antiretroviral drug combinations to treat people. However, the plan does not provide the drugs or subsidize their cost (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/17). The initiative needs $200 million in funding over the next two years, but so far no funding has been pledged for the program, Reuters reports (Woodall, Reuters, 3/3). In addition, only Britain, Spain and Sweden have shown a "willingness to consider [giving] some relatively modest sum," Lewis said, according to the AP/CTV.ca. Lewis said that member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development must "cough up the money" because there "has never been a more determined plan of action," adding, "No one is exempt" (AP/CTV.ca, 3/4). Lewis said that the U.N. Millennium Development Goals "are being held hostage by AIDS ... and we can't raise one-tenth of 1% of what we're spending on war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan to break the back of the pandemic" (Xinhua News Agency, 3/3). Although Canada in December 2003 announced it would contribute $100 million over the next two years to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, Lewis said that the funding "won't help" WHO's initiative, according to the Star. He added, "It's admirable. It's money. ... But it doesn't support the $200 million that the WHO specifically needs." Lewis concluded that if the 3 by 5 Initiative fails, "as it surely will without the dollars, then there are no excuses left, no rationalizations to hide behind, no murky slanders to justify indifference. There will only be the mass graves of the betrayed" (Toronto Star, 3/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.