Monday, April 14, 2003

Several times (here, here, here, here, and here) I've expressed skepticism about President Bush's State of the Union promise of a serious U.S. program to help fight AIDS in Africa. An article in the May American Prospect confirms some of my suspicions. On dollars allocated:

According to an analysis by the Open Society Institute (OSI), only $8.5 billion of the $15 billion pledge is actually "new money." The rest of the nearly $10 billion that Bush promised consists of funds previously committed by the administration in June for a multiyear program to prevent pregnant women from giving HIV to their babies, as well as continued funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria that the United States began financing two years ago.

More significantly, $6.8 billion of the new $8.5 billion is not slotted to come up for appropriation until the fiscal year 2006-2008 period, according to the OSI. After that, says Dr. Paul Zeitz, the executive director of the Washington-based Global AIDS Alliance and a former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) worker in Zambia, it could take up to a year for the funds to wend their way from the halls of Congress into the hands and lives of Africans afflicted with HIV. That means about 80 percent of the new money Bush is proposing in his "Emergency Plan" will not reach African hands until around the 2007-2009 period. By then, according to the United Nations Joint United Programme on HIV/AIDS, most of the 21 million Africans projected to contract HIV by 2010 will have already become infected.

And on fitting the AIDS program into the religious right's straitjacket:

In February the administration announced that it hoped to extend to international AIDS care and prevention groups the so-called Mexico City policy -- or global gag rule -- of prohibiting groups or programs that promote or perform abortions from receiving U.S. funding....

Because the trend in many African nations is toward integrated health services, the administration's push for centers to separate their services into AIDS and abortion-discussing programs could profoundly delay implementation of any AIDS programs using the new funds -- and also throw programs accustomed to receiving U.S. AIDS dollars into disarray.


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