Health

U.S. Aid for Tsunami-Hit Nations Falls Short

As the full extent of the destruction and death the tsunami wrought in South Asia becomes clear, significant aid pledges are finally pouring in. While the U.S. is beginning to respond, little attention is being paid in the public debate to the need for effective development assistance for South Asia in the medium to long term. Comparisons of what the U.S. is doing for disaster relief relative to other nations are obscuring the need for a sober assessment of how well U.S. aid measures up compared to the actual need. The White House is drafting its 2006 budget this month, so this is an important opportunity to expose how the U.S. falls short when it comes to providing aid commensurate with its wealth.

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Natural or Public Health Disaster?

The recent South Asian tsunami’s devastation has already claimed at least 144,000 lives, caused countless injuries and wiped out entire villages. Concern now turns to the escalating death count caused by the spread of disease.

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AIDS Appointee Shows that Business Still Rules the Roost

The appointment of a former top executive of a major U.S. pharmaceutical company and major Republican contributor as President George W. Bush’s global AIDS co-ordinator has stunned and outraged AIDS experts and activists. Bush’s choice of former Eli Lilly & Co. boss Randall Tobias was announced at the White House on July 1, just a few days before Bush’s first trip as president to Africa. The U.S. Senate must confirm the nomination.

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The United States in Iraq: An Experiment with Unilateral Humanitarianism

Operation Iraqi Freedom, the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the U.S. and its coalition partners, embodies a new approach to post-conflict humanitarian action. This approach unifies security, governance, humanitarian response, and reconstruction under the control of the Department of Defense. Humanitarian action is unilateral in character and linked inextricably to the U.S. security agenda in the context of the global war on terrorism. The UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations, traditionally the coordinators and implementers of humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction programs, are expected to play supportive roles within an effort managed by the Pentagon.

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House Passes $15-Billion Global AIDS Measure

In a key victory for President George W. Bush and anti-AIDS activists, the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday approved a five-year, $15 billion package to fight HIV/AIDS in 14 African and Caribbean nations. The bill, which would provide $3 billion each year beginning in 2004 to some of the world’s worst-affected countries, provides that up to $1 billion in each annual installment should go the cash-strapped Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

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The Dis-Integration of U.S. Global AIDS Funding

In his proposed “Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” announced during last month’s State of the Union Address, President Bush promised, among other things, “a comprehensive plan [to] prevent seven million new HIV infections.” International organizations working to prevent the spread of HIV and improve women’s health worldwide met the announcement with a mixture of hope and skepticism. Hope because prevention is critical to reducing the toll of HIV worldwide. Skepticism because sound AIDS prevention depends on effective promotion of safe sex, an obvious area of contention for the Bush administration.

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Bush Plays Shell Game with African Lives

On the eve of a meeting of rich country leaders in Canada, President Bush has brought out a "new initiative" promising $500 million to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children. Intended to stave off the embarrassment of coming empty-handed to a summit trumpeted as focusing on Africa, the White House initiative is in fact a cynical move to derail more effective action against AIDS.

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