Former Pres. Clinton, World Leaders at World Economic Forum Call for Increased Spending on HIV/AIDS, Poverty in Africa
Former President Clinton at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday called for developed countries to give more money to Africa to help fight HIV/AIDS and poverty, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 1/28). Clinton questioned the Bush administration's priorities and commitment to Africa, saying that a "pittance" of the $80 billion President Bush recently requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could double the U.S. contribution to help end poverty in Africa (Lederer, AP/Boston Globe, 1/28). Clinton said, "We ought to start with AIDS and infrastructure, with getting the medicine. You know once the country has the infrastructure, you can save lives" (Xinhuanet, 1/28). Clinton added, "You want to go save four million lives? Give them the medicine. It's not rocket science, and it's so cheap compared to everything else all these rich countries do. Anybody who says we shouldn't do this because there's corruption and incompetence should be put in a closet. I mean, this is ridiculous" (AP/Boston Globe, 1/28).
World Leaders Speak Out
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday at the forum called on governments and corporations to form partnerships to reduce poverty and solve crises in developing countries, particularly in Africa (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/27). Blair said that he will use his leadership of the Group of Eight industrialized countries and Britain's upcoming European Union presidency to promote the fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa, according to the New York Times. Blair on Thursday said, "If what was happening in Africa happened in any other part of the world there would be such a scandal and clamor." Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday at the forum said that African leaders have changed institutions to help deal with social and economic problems, showing that African leaders "want to help ourselves" according to the Times. However, Obasanjo said that there is not enough aid from developed countries for food, schools, jobs and health care. "We are getting aid when we have flood, disaster," Obasanjo said, adding, "We are not getting the critical mass of funds to make development possible" (Cowell, New York Times, 1/28).
Gates, Bono Call for More Resources
Multibillionaire Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft, on Thursday at the forum said that most of Africa's "disease and despair" could be prevented if more resources were provided, the AP/USA Today reports. "Millions of children die in Africa who shouldn't die, who it would be very easy to save," Gates said, adding, "The fact that we don't apply the resources to the known cures or to finding better cures is really ... the most scandalous issue of our time." The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged $750 million to support immunization programs in developing countries, according to the AP/USA Today. Irish rock star Bono -- founder of the AIDS, debt and trade organization DATA -- on Thursday at the forum praised Clinton and Gates, saying they were "getting it right" on HIV/AIDS and poverty issues in Africa, according to the AP/USA Today (AP/USA Today, 1/28). Bono said, "People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves," adding, "What else are we going to be remembered for, our generation? ... We will be remembered for three things right now: the Internet, the war against terror, and what we did or didn't do about this glorious continent of Africa and its travails. I think we can be the generation that ends extreme poverty -- I really do -- and I think I will spend the rest of my life pledged to that commitment" (AP/Boston Globe, 1/28).