Contact: Salih Booker, (202) 546-7961
Aisha Satterwhite, (212) 785-1024

Africa Action: Civic Leaders Propose New Global AIDS Funding Approach

Monday, June 11, 2001 (Washington, DC/New York City) - On the eve of President George Bush's first official trip to Europe, Africa Action today released a letter to the President signed by 65 leadership figures from across the United States calling for billions of additional dollars to fight the global AIDS pandemic. Africa Action Board President, Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, stated that, "Increasing funding levels from all the rich countries to fight AIDS should be at the top of Bush's agenda in Europe, but in order to succeed, Washington has to commit much more itself."

The letter whose signatories include Congresswoman Eva Clayton (D-NC); Denver Mayor Wellington Webb; Trinity United Church of Christ Pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. (Chicago); Sean Barry of Advocates for Youth; and Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser demonstrates that a broad cross section of Americans believe strongly that the United States has a moral obligation, a historical responsibility and a national interest in helping to save millions of African lives and in defeating this pandemic. It also demonstrates that significant communities around the nation believe the administration is not doing nearly enough.

The letter to President Bush reads in part:

"We ask you to mandate your administration to respond with the urgency this crisis requires, by reserving at least 5 % of the anticipated budget surplus each year to fight the AIDS pandemic and to support related global health needs. At current estimates, this would provide $7.1 billion dollars for fiscal year 2002, and comparable amounts in following years."

Today's letter to President Bush is the first in a series of three weekly letters advocating changes in the current US approach to fighting the AIDS pandemic in Africa. The letters, leading up to the June 25-27 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, argue that: US funding must be increased; Africa's illegitimate external debts must be canceled; African nations' rights to acquire affordable medicines for their people, including generic drugs, must be upheld; and the false dichotomy between prevention and treatment must be ended.

Salih Booker, Africa Action's Executive Director, said "The proposal to commit 5% of budget surpluses is not to suggest that funding for AIDS is optional, but to highlight the obscene imbalance where at present the wealthiest country of all time contributes so little to fight the worst plague of all time." He added that, "The existence of a surplus should simply make it easier to contribute our fair share toward a solution." The Bush administration boasts that the US already contributes over 50% of the current total international funding. Booker compared this to "contributing more than half of one cup of water to put out a forest fire!"

CPT Home IP and Healthcare CPT page on calls for funding