Groups Call on G7 Finance Ministers To Drop Debt In More Than 30 Poor Countries To Increase Money to Fight HIV/AIDS
Several public health, AIDS advocacy and development groups are urging finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations to support eliminating debt in more than 30 countries, saying that if developing nations spend less on paying down debts, they will have more money to spend in the fight against HIV/AIDS, VOA News reports. The finance ministers from the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy are scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1 (Capua, VOA News, 9/24). Four AIDS advocacy groups -- ActionAid International USA, Global AIDS Alliance, Student Global AIDS Campaign and RESULTS Educational Fund -- on Friday released a report, titled "Blocking Progress," that calls on the International Monetary Fund to drop certain conditions it attaches to its loans and debt relief. According to the report, the policies, which are aimed at keeping inflation low and public spending in check, might be making it more difficult for developing nations' governments to improve their health care infrastructures, OneWorld.net reports. The report also calls on the World Bank to disassociate its lending policies from the IMF, according to OneWorld.net
Rick Rowden of ActionAid International USA, who is the report's main author, said, "The IMF's insistence on very low inflation targets must be scrutinized," adding, "This issue must be brought into the center of public debate if countries are ever to be allowed to scale-up public health spending effectively to fight HIV/AIDS." GAA Executive Director Paul Zeitz said, "This report should be a real wake-up call to people concerned about the alarming impact of AIDS on prospects for development and stability." He added that the report shows "the terrible price we could pay if a rigid adherence to economic orthodoxy wins out over common sense." Joanne Carter, an analyst with RESULTS Educational Fund, said, "The low-inflation targets set by the IMF lead directly to limits on the national budgets of poor countries, which lead to ceilings on national health budgets" (Lobe, OneWorld.net, 9/24).
Britain Announces Debt-Relief Funding
The British government on Sunday announced a new effort to pay down 10% of the total amount owed by low-income nations to international agencies and challenged other nations to implement similar policies, the New York Times reports. U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said that Britain will earmark $180 million annually until 2015 to pay off 10% of the money owed by 32 low-income nations to international lenders, in particular the World Bank and the African Development Bank (Cowell, New York Times, 9/26). Brown said in a statement, "We will make payments in their stead to the World Bank and African Development Bank for the portion that relates to Britain's share of this debt," adding, "We do this alone today, but I urge other counties to follow so that over-indebted countries are relieved of the burden of servicing all unpayable multilateral debt," the AP/Hartford Courant reports (Johnson, AP/Hartford Courant, 9/26).