News Release

A War Chest Against AIDS in Africa?


This morning, President Bush, joined by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, announced $200 million for a new global “war chest” to fight AIDS around the world. Many activists and analysts familiar with the situation were immediately critical; some have been protesting in front of the White House this afternoon. Among those available for interviews are:

Krauss is a member of Act Up Philadelphia, which is working with the Health Gap Coalition. Protesting in front of the White House today, she said: “Bush’s White House ceremony this morning was a farce. It was designed to give the public the idea that the U.S. is doing something about AIDS in Africa. But today’s announcement will mean only $7 for each person dying of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, with less than $3 going to AIDS drugs…. Bush shows incredible hubris in trying to paper over this embarrassment with a White House ceremony.”
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Deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, Lurie said today: “Even if every penny of this money went to AIDS, for the government of a country that produces 26 percent of the world’s wealth to offer less than 10 percent of what UNAIDS experts say is needed to adequately respond to the epidemic is just miserly.”
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Director of Africa Action, Booker said this afternoon: “Today the White House announced its proposed contribution this year to the new global fund for AIDS, a mere $200 million that was reported to be coming from ‘other accounts.’ This is only a fraction of what is needed, and much less than a penny out of each dollar of the president’s tax cut just rushed through Congress. Under-funding this UN initiative is the equivalent of sending millions of Africans to death.”
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Author of Privatizing Health Services in Africa, Turshen returned on May 1 from Algeria, where she interviewed delegates to the Organization for African Unity Summit on AIDS, TB and Malaria held in Nigeria. Professor of urban studies and community health at Rutgers University, Turshen said today: “Today’s announcement is a distraction from the fact that the real issue is lack of health services in Africa. TB is entirely preventable and curable; malaria can be prevented and treated, yet millions are dying from these diseases because structural adjustment policies, foisted on African countries by the World Bank, have pulled the plug on public health care systems. There’s an overemphasis on pharmaceutical palliatives for AIDS which are unaffordable for most Africans and there’s an overemphasis on sexual transmission of AIDS, which plays on racist stereotypes of Africans.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167