U.K. Commission for Africa To Release Report Calling for Increased Aid, Debt Relief To Help Improve Economies, Fight AIDS
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa on Friday is expected to release a "road map to recovery" for Africa, and former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker (R-Kan.), the only U.S. representative on the task force, said on Tuesday that countries must cooperate and focus on the priorities outlined in the report if the plan is to succeed, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Johnson, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/9). The commission, which examined HIV/AIDS and other challenges facing the continent and ways to resolve those issues, includes politicians, economists and advocates from Africa and developed nations. The report aims to put Africa in the forefront of the international agenda during the United Kingdom's year as chair of the G8 and during its presidency of the European Union (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/6/04). Blair established the 17-member commission, which has nine African members, in February 2004 (AFP/Yahoo! News, 3/7). The 400-page final report calls for an "immediate doubling" of international aid to Africa to $50 billion annually, the removal of trade barriers, debt forgiveness and increased efforts to address poor governance, corruption and war throughout the continent, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/9). The report also calls for annual funding for HIV/AIDS to be increased to $10 billion annually within the next five years, London's Guardian reports (Pallister et al., Guardian, 3/5). Kassebaum Baker said the report would "give fresh momentum to tackling the continent's crippling problems of health, poverty and conflict," according to the AP/Sun. "There is a road map here. We can make priorities of what we can accomplish and do it right," she said, adding, "We are not going to solve this overnight. The key is whether there is going to be a willingness to stick with it" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/9).
UNAIDS, France, U.K., U.S. Hold AIDS Conference
UNAIDS and representatives from the governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States on Wednesday will co-host a conference in London to "ensure countries can reverse the spread and impact of AIDS," according to a joint release. U.K. Department for International Development Secretary Hilary Benn; French Minister for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie Xavier Darcos; U.S. Ambassador and head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias; and UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot will speak at the meeting, titled "Making the Money Work." Attendees -- including ministers and ambassadors from developing countries and Western nations, civil society and multilateral businesses and organizations -- will focus on three areas of improvement that are necessary to channel HIV/AIDS funding to those most in need, according to the release. The areas include effectively delivering HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries securing funding needed to increase international action in the fight against HIV/AIDS and determining the division of responsibility among international groups, developing countries and donors to deliver money and assistance. "In order to get ahead of the epidemic, the international community must work together to scale up the AIDS response," Piot said, adding, "This means maximizing donor coordination, mobilizing new resources and ensuring that the available funds for AIDS are spent effectively on the ground. Today's high-level meeting will come up with ways to make the money work" (Joint release, 3/9).