Editorials Address Need for Assistance from Developed World to Fight AIDS in Africa
Several newspaper editorials this week have addressed the price reductions and patent relaxations on AIDS drugs by Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb, as well as the need for developed nations of the world to offer more humanitarian aid to African nations in order to assure the purchase, distribution and monitoring of such drugs. Excerpts of several of the editorials follow:
- Philadelphia Inquirer: "[T]he world community (with the United States leading the way) must bring other weapons [in the fight against AIDS] to bear: money and expertise," a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial states. The "maddening aspect" of the current situation is that the drug discounts recently offered are "still beyond the reach of impoverished African governments and individuals," the editorial continues, adding that what is needed now is money to fund the purchase of the drugs in order to stem the "humanitarian crisis" in Africa. The editorial calls on President Bush to allocate more money for the issue when he presents his federal budget proposal next month. The budget "ought to reflect Americans' humane and generous spirit," the editorial continues. The budget "ought to be bold in dedicating additional foreign aid to buying AIDS drugs and developing health care systems that can administer them," the editorial concludes (Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/21).
- Boston Globe: "[T]he solid front of pharmaceutical companies against allowing cheap, generic versions of their AIDS drugs into Africa is cracking. This is a welcome development, but genuine hope ... requires more help from industrialized countries and a greater leadership role by local governments," an editorial in the Boston Globe states. The editorial singles out Brazil as an example of how the use of low-cost generic drugs works to save money and reduce the death rate from AIDS-related complications. Brazil has benefitted not only from its better economic status and its ability to create or buy generic drugs, but also from the "crucial" leadership of its current leader and his predecessor, the editorial states. For Africa to have the same success, it needs "financial assistance" from the industrialized world. Donors should also "require" recipients to establish protocols to "ensure" that the drugs are properly distributed and administered. With such an effort, the "world finally has a chance to curb the epidemic in Africa," the editorial concludes (Boston Globe, 3/22).
- Providence Journal: "AIDS is a special case," a Providence Journal editorial states, adding that the disease's "devastation demands a broad humanitarian response." And although drug discounts and cheaper generic drug offerings sound "very promising," the lower prices are "still beyond the means of most Africans." Therefore, financial support from governments, donors and charities is "essential" to buy drugs and train people how to use them. Otherwise, the crisis some have labeled "an international health scandal ... [equivalent to] mass murder" will continue, the editorial concludes (Providence Journal, 3/22).
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: AIDS is "not just a humanitarian disaster, nor is it an African problem alone," an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states. According to a January 2000 National Intelligence Estimate, AIDS and other infectious diseases "will complicate U.S. and global security over the next 20 years. These diseases will endanger U.S. citizens at home and abroad, threaten U.S. armed forces deployed overseas and exacerbate social and political instability in key countries and regions in which the United States has significant interests." Based on this information, "[f]or reasons of self-interest, as well as for compelling moral ones, the United States and other countries should pitch in and help," the editorial concludes (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/18).
- New Haven Register: "The rest of the world has largely stood by as AIDS has decimated African nations," a New Haven Register editorial states, adding, "But the immediacy of Africa's plight was brought home recently because of drug companies' refusal to yield patent rights on AIDS drugs." The editorial continues, "The scope of poverty and government dysfunction in Africa is so vast that even humanitarian acts like [the recent discounts] of Bristol-Myers and Merck will have little impact." Advocacy groups and charities must continue to "turn the spotlight of public attention" on AIDS, as a group of Yale University law students and Doctors Without Borders have done. Otherwise, a "generation in Africa is doomed," the editorial concludes (New Haven Register, 3/21).