PRESIDENT BUSH HAS PRESENTED AN INITIATIVE ON GLOBAL AIDS -- THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ADVOCACY THAT HAS MADE THIS POSSIBLE
==> But the Plan falls short in a number of areas, so we need your help to persuade Congress to amend the plan and provide needed funds NOW. We have to urge the US Congress to fix its flaws and get the funds moving NOW to the most effective AIDS programs (like the Global Fund).
- The latest development is that President Bush is demanding that a key piece of AIDS and debt legislation be scaled back, so it will be more in keeping with the slow paced and US-dominant approach he favors.
- Now, only independent-minded Senators like Richard Lugar and others can save the day - so let's get some emails, faxes and calls in to this key Senator.
- In addition, the House International Relations Committee is getting ready to consider a similar bill -- and pressure is strong that the bill NOT include adequate funds for the Global Fund. So let's get messages in to the Chair of the Committee, Rep. Henry Hyde.
Why do these bills matter? Because they are a roadmap for US spending on global AIDS -- so we have to get it right! WE NEED A FAST AND EFFECTIVE FIGHT AGAINST AIDS AND WE NEED DEBT CANCELLATION ==> LIVES ARE IN THE BALANCE.
We need full support for the super-efficient Global Fund.
- SIGN AND DISTRIBUTE the organizational sign on letter HERE.
==> DO NOT send an email without also calling...please. It takes just 1 minute.
- Call Senator Lugar at 202-224-4651 and Call Rep. Hyde at 202-225-4561. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT, JUST CALL! (Need help or talking points? Call 202-397-7700)
- SEND A FAX TO Senator Lugar at: 202-228-0360
- SEND A FAX TO Rep. Hyde at: 202-225-1166
- Plus, let your own Senators and Representatives know where you stand. Is your Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee? Or is your Representative a member of the House International Relations Committee? If so, please call their office ASAP about this. Look in the easy-to-use Congressional Directory located HERE.
SAMPLE LETTER (pls put in your own words):
You have spoken out boldly about the need for increased spending to fight global AIDS, as well as other diseases like TB and malaria. Thank you!
As a participant of the Student Global AIDS Walk on April 12, an event in 10 U.S. cities raising funds for over 250 AIDS clinics and raising awareness about the pandemic, I'm deeply concerned about the U.S.'s commitment to fighting global AIDS.
Last year the Senate approved a bill that would have authorized $2.5 billion in US spending in fiscal year 2004, with $1.25 billion of that for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The bill would also have mandated the Bush Administration seek deeper debt relief, particularly for countries facing health crises. The House approved a similar measure.
I understand some would like to see these bills scaled back. I urge you to support what was approved by the Senate last year -- and even authorize more spending, to a level of $3.5 billion for FY 2004, to take into account how the epidemic has advanced. I urge half the funds be for the super-efficient Global Fund.
I hope I can count on you to stand up for what's really needed to fight the AIDS crisis and relieve crushing debt. AIDS is a crisis affecting all humanity. I support the US putting in its fair share to stop AIDS, as well as pursuing deeper debt cancellation to assist countries burdened by debt payments.
I urge you to support restoration of $200 million in US funds for international TB control in 2004, which President Bush cut; also please support authorizing $300 million in spending to address the orphans crisis.
A balanced approach is vital to our success, and so I urge you to fully support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria . The Global Fund is a fast and efficient mechanism that can get the help where it is most needed -- and truly save lives.
Please ensure the Congress approves a bill that truly meets the needs of families and communities.
Sincerely, YOUR NAME HERE
President Bush wants AIDS legislation to be consistent with the AIDS Plan he presented during the State of the Union Address. The President presented a bold and compelling vision on the issue, including for treatment with generics. But, the fine-print of the plan shows that, unless it is fixed by Congress, the result will be a slow-paced, US-dominated program.
Less than 5% of the promised $10 billion in new spending for AIDS over the next five years is requested in the President's FY 2004 budget. And, Bush proposes a reduction from this year's contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (from $350 million to $200 million), and favors instead programs that are fully controlled by the US. Out of loyalty to the President, key members of Congress may be persuaded to go along with the Bush approach.
To enforce his approach Bush is seeking changes in key spending authorizations bills. One key bill in question passed the Senate unanimously last year (it was called the Kerry-Frist bill). Since it failed to pass the full Congress it has to be re-introduced and voted on, first in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Committee may act on the bill next month.
A similar situation is taking place in the House International Relations Committee, where some members favor an approach that includes inadequate support for the Global Fund. It will likely be acted on very soon, so appeals for support for the Global Fund are very much needed.
Entitled "The US Leadership to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria Act", the Senate bill would have authorized $2.5 billion in US spending in fiscal year 2004, with $1.25 billion of that for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. That 50-50 split, with half for programs sponsored solely by the US government and half for multilateral programs like the Global Fund, showed a balanced approach to fighting AIDS. Combined with another bill, it would also have mandated the Bush Administration seek changes in international debt programs. It would have required that no recipient country would pay more than 10% of their government revenue on debt payments (and no more than 5% if the country is facing a health crisis).
Efforts have been made in the current Congress to schedule a mark-up of the bill in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator Lugar is chair. But, action in the Committee came to a halt when Senator Frist recently shifted his support to the substitute version drafted by the White House. This version would strip out all specific funding levels for AIDS programs and remove all congressional oversight mechanisms. The overall funding level would be reduced to $2 billion, and there would be no designated funds for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (even though the Fund will soon run out of resources!).
Senator Lugar has spoken out in favor of a strong US response to the epidemic -- so, we need Senator Lugar to stand up to White House pressure! The bill passed last year by the Senate was a good step forward -- why change the bill now just so it does not show up the President?!
As Senator Lugar said in December, "We must do much more on the African AIDS pandemic which is a humanitarian catastrophe and a serious economic and political crisis."
The NYC newspaper Newsday covered Senator Frist actions and Senator Lugar's reaction: click on: Newsday story Feb 13
LET'S REVIEW THE FACTS:
- Over 8,000 people will die from AIDS today. According to the latest UNAIDS report, the death toll is expected to rise substantially unless health systems in the poor world are substantially improved and those living in poverty are given access to anti retroviral drugs. The report also highlights the fact that 90 percent of Africans are NOT infected, indicating that much is at stake in preventing the further spread of AIDS. Four recent studies of young people in sub- Saharan Africa provide evidence that prevention is beginning to show results for young women.
- More resources can be productively used NOW to bring effective prevention, treatment and care to save the millions lives of millions of sick people, and build the health systems needed to save millions more in the future.
- Experts report that it is feasible to provide treatment to three million people by 2005 -- need the details? see PHR's Analysis
Are you a high school or university student? You'll find more great action ideas HERE !!
- For more action ideas on access to AIDS medications (TREAT THE PEOPLE) click HERE . Check out the posters, flyers and other tools for activism you can download HERE
- For action ideas on debt cancellation (DROP THE DEBT) click HERE
- How can you raise awareness and motivate for action in your area? Try showing a video to a group of friends and neighbors and think together about what you can do.
Videos you can borrow or purchase:
Coming to Say Goodbye: Stories of AIDS in Africa. A documentary on the global dimensions of AIDS as seen through the eyes of those who live in East Africa. The video examines reasons for Africa's massive breakdown in health care, the government's inability to provide an adequate health system, and the societal conditions contributing to the AIDS epidemic. Purchase from Maryknoll for $14.95.
Epidemic Africa This video examines the problems facing children and families affected by AIDS, and some programs that are helping. Includes an introduction and conclusion from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Available on loan from Church World Service or purchase from Moxiefirecracker
A Generation of Hope The inspiring story of how Zimbabwe's children fight to keep their families together, and struggle to make a future for themselves. Watch online or purchase from United Methodist Church, General Board of Global Ministries
Permission to use this document from Global AIDS Alliance (www.globalaidsalliance.org)
Student Global AIDS Walk