U.N. Secretary-General Annan to Announce ‘Sweeping Attack’ on AIDS in Developing NationsUnited Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to announce tomorrow at the Abuja Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Infectious Diseases a "comprehensive plan" to combat such diseases in developing nations, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the speech before African leaders at the Nigerian summit, Annan will "outline his vision for a single fund -- likely to be run by the World Bank -- that would unite disease-prevention efforts and the provision of advanced life-extending drugs." Although details of the plan remain "sketchy," some meeting participants noted that it may include the following:
- Strengthening HIV education and prevention among youth;
- Increasing condom distribution and counseling efforts for those with STDs and who use intravenous drugs;
- Determining the best ways to provide drug therapy for HIV-positive women to prevent vertical HIV transmission;
- Determining how AIDS medicines should be administered and delivered to decrease the risk of resistance;
- Improving treatment for opportunistic infections and speeding up the search for an AIDS vaccine;
- Increasing care and education for AIDS orphans.
OAU Calls for Increased Funding
Organization of African Unity Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim said at the Abuja summit that to fight AIDS, Africa needs "international assistance not in a token or symbolic form, but massive resources." While Africa should provide the primary resources to fight the disease, he noted that the region's "excruciating poverty" and "huge debt burden" would not allow it to mobilize enough resources ( Panafrican News Agency, 4/24). Ibrahim Samba, head of the WHO African division, said, "We have enough experts in Africa to do the job. What is lacking is the money. We have less than 10% of what is required here." Nono Semelela, head of the South African Health Ministry's AIDS division, said that South Africa would not automatically provide AIDS drugs to infected citizens, as multinational drug makers' price reductions "do not necessarily translate into affordability for developing countries" (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 4/25). Researchers estimate that it may cost between $7 billion to $10 billion more per year than is currently being spent to fight AIDS; less than $1 billion per year is currently being spent by wealthy nations for disease treatment and prevention in the developing world. But at a meeting in London on Monday, officials from the United Nations, World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and wealthy countries such as Britain, Italy, Canada, Sweden and the United States, began "edging toward agreement on how to manage such a sweeping attack on the disease" and agreed to consolidate proposals. President Bush's senior advisers met yesterday in the White House situation room to "hammer out" a U.S. position on an AIDS fund, including how large the U.S. contribution should be and whether to endorse the idea that the fund should address tuberculosis and malaria in addition to AIDS (Wall Street Journal, 4/25).