U.N. Report Calls for Debt Cancellation for Sub-Saharan African Countries To Reduce Poverty, Achieve Development Goals
Creditors should cancel or reduce the debt of sub-Saharan African countries to allow those nations to reduce poverty and achieve the United Nations Development Programme's Millennium Development Goals, according to a report released on Thursday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the AP/MSNBC.com reports (Cage, AP/MSNBC.com, 9/30). Several public health, AIDS advocacy and development groups also 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 spent less on paying down debts, they would have more money to spend in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The finance ministers from the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy are scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C., on Friday (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/27). Between 1970 and 2002, African countries received approximately $540 billion in loans. Although the countries have repaid $550 billion, including interest, the countries still had $295 billion in debt at the end of 2002, according to the AP/MSNBC.com. Sub-Saharan African countries have about $210 billion in debt, despite paying back 91% of the money they originally borrowed, according to the AP/MSNBC.com. According to the report, African countries must pursue policies of prudent debt management, economic diversification and sustained economic growth to meet the Millennium Development Goals, which include halting or reversing the spread of HIV. African countries would need economic growth rates of 7% to 8% to "stand a chance" of achieving the development goals, according to the report, the AP/MSNBC.com reports. The report also says that developed countries need to support African countries' efforts to develop and reduce poverty by opening markets to African products and eventually eliminating subsidies on agricultural products, according to the AP/MSNBC.com (AP/MSNBC.com, 9/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.