Critics Say Bush AIDS Treatment Plan Flawed in Confronting Global Epidemic
Interview with Salih Booker, executive director of Africa Action, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
The AIDS pandemic has killed 25 million people worldwide over the past two decades, the vast majority in Africa, where it continues to spread virtually unchecked. President Bush scored points with many concerned about the epidemic when, during his State of the Union Address in January, he announced a $15 billion aid package for AIDS prevention and treatment over the next five years in Africa. But critics noted that most of the money was "backloaded," that is, slated for budgets toward the end of the five-year period. And there was no proposal for a supplemental budget appropriation this year, such as was passed last month to pay for the war in Iraq. Critics also charge that the administration is planning to establish a new bureaucracy to control and administer most of the funds, rather than channeling all the money through the United Nations-sponsored Global Fund for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Still, the fact that new funds are being made available, both for prevention and treatment, is a positive development, say those working in the field.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Salih Booker, executive director of Africa Action. Over the years, the group has focused its attention on the struggle against colonialism, apartheid, the debt burden hindering development and other issues affecting the continent. Now the group's primary focus is on combating HIV/AIDS, part of its Africa's Right to Health Campaign. Booker discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the White House proposed legislation on AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa.
Contact Africa Action at (202) 546-7961 or visit their Web site at www.africaaction.org.
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