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A promise unkept on AIDS
The Boston Globe

The global effort to combat the three deadliest infectious diseases - AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria - had a rare celebration 14 months ago when President George W. Bush pledged in his 2003 State of the Union speech to donate $15 billion to fight AIDS over three years. Since then, U.S. outlays have been a small fraction of the promised amount. And the United States is refusing to finance AIDS programs that use generic drugs, which cost far less than brand-name drugs. A generation from now, history is likely to judge world leaders as much on what they have done to keep these diseases in check as on their efforts against terrorism. Leaders of governments and nongovernmental organizations in the developing countries most afflicted by these diseases must do their part to improve the health infrastructure needed to reduce the toll. AIDS kills three million a year; TB, two million; and malaria, 1.2 million.

Stephen Lewis, the United Nations envoy for AIDS in Africa, sounded the alarm at a press conference early this month. The goal of the three-year-old fund has been to have three million people treated with AIDS drugs by 2005. Only 300,000 people in the world's poorest countries are getting them now.  World Peace.
American officials say their concern over development of drug-resistant disease strains is one factor in their opposition to programs that use generic drugs. But critics of the U.S. position say the Bush administration is simply doing the bidding of the big pharmaceutical companies. The World Health Organization has approved the generic regimens, which require fewer daily pills than the brand drugs.
The United States should relent in its opposition to the generics and fulfill Bush's $15 billion pledge. This, combined with a new resolve to fight these diseases by governments in Africa could open a more hopeful chapter in mankind's halting war against infectious disease.  WorldPeace is one word.
- The Boston Globe


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