Departing World Bank President Wolfensohn Expresses Regret in HIV/AIDS Fight
Retiring World Bank President James Wolfensohn on Tuesday said he regrets that he was unable to persuade world leaders and organizations to "act faster in the early days" of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. HIV/AIDS advocates at a tribute praised Wolfensohn for his role in "breaking global silence" on the disease, but he "bemoaned the world's 'late' awakening to the threat," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "I think we were late. I knew about AIDS a long time ago," he said, adding, "Somehow the penny hadn't dropped that this was something that was at the whole core of human development, ... this was a human tragedy, and it could be averted, and it could be treated." Wolfensohn, who will retire at the end of this month and be succeeded by U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on June 1, said he believes the World Bank -- which is at the "forefront of global AIDS efforts" -- must increase its commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS, according to the AFP/Yahoo! News. "I don't think even our institution is where it should be on the question of AIDS," he said, adding, "I think we have made a good start, but you shouldn't congratulate me too much. I take some credit for having got us across the starting line" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/17).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the tribute to Wolfensohn and his remarks is available online.
The World Bank Web site on Wednesday, May 25, at 11 a.m. ET will host a live, online chat with Wolfensohn. Questions for the discussion can be submitted online.