_Secretary Thompson to People with AIDS: Drop Dead
[ HealthGap Press Release ]
FICTION: .. "The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and the Bush Administration's response to AIDS -- at home and abroad -- is impeccable, and is motivated by compassion and caring."
FACT: .. Since taking office, Thompson and the Bush Administration have crafted dangerous domestic and foreign policy that is deadly for people with AIDS in the U.S. and around the world.
FICTION : .. "The U.S. government is paying its fair share to treat the AIDS pandemic -- they are the most generous donors, in fact."
FACT: .. Cronyism and corporate welfare drive the Bush Administration's budgetary decision-making. After September 11, it took the Administration one week to find $14 Billion to bail out the airline industry, and less than one month to expand the massive U.S. military budget by $40 Billion. The fantasy that the U.S. cares about the fate of people with AIDS in developing countries -- or people living with AIDS in the U.S. -- is outrageous:
The U.S. refused to pay for AIDS treatment: the U.S. is stingier than least develooped countries in their contributions to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (see chart above). The U.S. stole $500 million meant for the Global Fund, primarily to pay for treatment, reduced it to $200 million and restricted it to prevention.
Americans are here to hold our government accountable for its decisions. We stand with people fighting against AIDS from around the world to demand: NO MORE LIES FROM THOMPSON! WE DEMAND ACTION, NOT EMPTY PROMISES!
see also: Tommy Thompson Barcelona Zap
WHERE IS THE $10 BILLION?
WHERE IS THE POLITICAL WILL?
Treatment is feasible. Demonstration ARV treatment projects, with significant clinical benefits to people with HIV/AIDS in developing countries, prove once and for all that treatment is feasible in resource-limited settings and that justifuications for delaying or denying treatment are unfounded and unacceptable.
Where's the $10 Billion? The main barrier to scaling up treatment programs is the failure of both donor governments, expecially G8 countries, and national governments in developing countries to mobilize promised resources for the Glbal Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and other financing mechanisms and to demonstrate real political commitment to treatment. Donors have broken promises made over the last two years -- including at Okinawa (G8 2000), Abuja (OAU 2001), New York (UNGASS 2001), and Genoa (G8 2001). Without the money, all other discussions about significantly improving access are purely academic.
Global Fund Doomed Without Money and Pro-Treatment Policies. The Global Fund will be doomed to failure unless donors ante up the necessary resources and the Global Fund (including its Executive Director) assumes clear leadership by: demanding unequivocally that donors mobilize the necessary funds; issuing clear public statements that treatment (including ARV treatment) is not just fundable but a mandatory part of any comprehensive proposal; and issuing clear public statements that grant reciients not only can but must -- in order to reach the largest number of people possible -- use grants received from the Global Fund for treatment programs to purchase quality drugs at the lowest possible cost, whether generic or brand name.
Accelerating Access or Equitable Access? Instead of the industry-led "Accelerating Access Initiative" -- which has not given countries the best price options and is characterized by arbitrary restrictions and undue burdens for recipients -- an alternative model that could be called "Equitable Access" should be developed. THis system should involve people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries and their communities, governments, and UN agencies (such as WHO and UNICEF) that should offer technical support. This approach would involve: generic competition; clear guidelines for differential pricing of brand name drugs; support for technology transfer and scale-up of local or regional production; a UN-led bulk procurement and distribution system for medicines; pre-qualification; support for the implementation of the Doha Declaration.
Putting Patients Before Patents: Implementing the Doha Declaration in Good Faith. The US and EU are quickly reneging on the historic deal struck at the WTO Doha Ministerial -- where countries agreed to give clear primacy to the protection of public health over private intellectual property protection -- by opposing a pro-public health solution to the production for export problem set forth in Paragraph 6 of the Doha declaration, among other things. The US in particular is in the process of negotiating bilateral and regional trade agreements, such as FTAA, that are clearly TRIPS+ and Doha+, contravening the letter and spirit of the Doha Declaration. WTO members must implement the Doha Declaration in good faith.
Treatment and Monitoring Protocals Need to be Simplified. There is ample evidence about the feasibility of ARV treatment in resource-limited settings. Now there is an urgent need for new simplified models of AIDS care to reach significant proportions of people in need of treatment in developing countries. Strategies for simplifying treatment and monitoring protocols should be led by people with HIV/AIDS, physicians, and researchers from developing countries.
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