Tobias, Bush Administration Should ‘Show Greater Flexibility’ in Work With Other Countries To Fight AIDS, Editorial Says
Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, could "do himself and his country a big favor" by urging Congress and the Bush administration to "show greater flexibility in working with other nations" to combat HIV/AIDS, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial says. "It wouldn't take much" to lobby within the administration and Congress to "tweak" a law concerning contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the editorial says (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/26). Although Congress authorized $547 million for the fund for fiscal year 2004, the bill (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief stipulates that the total U.S. contribution to the fund not exceed 33% of overall contributions. Under the requirement, other donors would have to contribute a total of $1.11 billion to the fund for the United States to provide all $547 million. Because the Global Fund was $243 million short of the $1.11 billion by the previous July 31 deadline, the United States only would be able to contribute $427 million in FY 2004 and would roll the remaining $120 million back into the PEPFAR budget. However, Tobias last week announced that he intends to hold the $120 million until Sept. 30 -- the end of the federal fiscal year -- to give other countries and donors more time to contribute the additional $243 million to the Global Fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/25).
'Keep the Fund Solvent'
Congress' "artificial" deadline should not "become political fodder that distracts from the fund's mission," the Sun-Sentinel says, adding that the administration should "see[k] a solution to keep the fund solvent." Tobias should work with international leaders to produce a schedule that would "address Congress' concerns" and allow other nations to make contributions in a "timely and appropriate manner," while the administration "would do well" to monitor the fund to determine if the deadline is a "realistic one for most nations," the editorial says. "The ultimate goal should be to stop" the spread of HIV, the Sun-Sentinel says, concluding that Tobias' "hands may be tied by law, but that shouldn't be allowed to undermine global efforts to stamp out AIDS. Congress should be prepared to untie his hands if necessary" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/26).