Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces on HIV/AIDS Funding Following Tsunami Relief
The international aid pledged to help nations and individuals affected by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami soon might equal the amount the United Nations received for all humanitarian aid in 2004, and some HIV/AIDS advocates worry that such an outpouring of generosity could end up drawing funds away from HIV/AIDS-related efforts. Donors worldwide have pledged more than $5 billion in tsunami relief, compared with $3.6 billion spent by Western governments to fight HIV/AIDS last year. This discrepancy has left HIV/AIDS advocates and employees of international aid agencies wondering why other problems, particularly the HIV/AIDS pandemic, have failed to strike the same chord among donors (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/11). Several newspapers have published opinion pieces and editorials about HIV/AIDS funding following the tsunami disaster, some of which are summarized below.
- Robert Goldberg, Washington Times: "Liberals" criticized the Bush administration's initial response to the tsunami disaster as "stingy," but "without having a system of distribution in place, the pledges of money amount to nothing more than aimless dumping of donations that are likely stolen or diverted to corrupt officials," Goldberg, director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Medical Progress, writes in a Times opinion piece. Similarly, critics "have measured the Bush HIV/AIDS plan only in terms of how much is being spent on drugs," Goldberg says. However, the Bush administration "has given a lot of the money" to local organizations to expand the infrastructure necessary to deliver antiretroviral drugs, Goldberg writes, adding that those grants have allowed the delivery of "affordable" medications "without the usual compassion fashion show that liberals like to give for the media" (Goldberg, Washington Times, 1/12).
- Nicholas Kristof, New York Times: The accusation that the United States is "stingy" in helping resource-poor areas holds true beyond tsunami relief aid because "this month and every month, more people will die of malaria (165,000 or more) and AIDS (240,000) than died in the tsunamis," and U.S. aid falls short in those areas, Times columnist Kristof writes. One of the "most effective" actions the Bush administration could take to fix the United States' "tarnished" image in the world "would be to lead a global effort to confront an ongoing challenge, such as malaria," Kristof says. The United States should respond to the accusation of stinginess with generosity because "the measure of generosity is not what you offer when the spotlight is upon you, but what you do when the spotlight moves on," Kristof concludes (Kristof, New York Times, 1/5).
- Martin Wolf, Financial Times: The Indian Ocean tsunami "reminded us of our shared humanity," prompted a "rivalry among official donors" and "left thousands of orphans," but the disaster must not "divert" the world's attention from "habitual calamities," such as the approximately 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa, Times columnist Wolf writes. Although providing a greater amount of aid to Africa carries risk, "doing nothing is worse," and the lack of proper funding and resources "brings dreadful certainties," Wolf writes, concluding, "Let us manage the risks, not live with the certainties" (Wolf, Financial Times, 1/12).
- Globe and Mail: International aid workers "lament" that while donors worldwide have contributed billions of dollars for tsunami relief, many governments have not been "as generous in the battle against HIV/AIDS," according to an editorial in Toronto's Globe and Mail. The challenge for the world is to raise resources even when "the deaths are more predictable and the damage less quantifiable" because long-term crises require "more than a quick response," they require "commitment," the editorial concludes (Globe and Mail, 1/12).