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AFRO-NETS> Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Wed, 20 Jun 2001



Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Wed, 20 Jun 2001
-----------------------------------------------

* Gates Foundation Donates $100 Million to U.N. Global AIDS and
  Health Fund
* Coca-Cola to Use Drink Distribution Network for HIV/AIDS Preven-
  tion, Treatment Materials
* Natsios' Comments on Time 'Not U.S. Policy,' U.S. Official Says;
  Criticism of Statements Continues


--
Gates Foundation Donates $100 Million to U.N. Global AIDS and Health 
Fund

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation yesterday announced it will do-
nate $100 million over an "unspecified" number of years to the U.N. 
Global AIDS and Health Fund and called on other international donors 
to follow suit, the Washington Post reports. "We believe that there 
is no higher priority than stopping the transmission of this deadly 
disease," Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said (DeYoung, Washington 
Post, 6/20). "A dramatic increase in funding is necessary and re-
quired to fight the pandemic," foundation President Patty Stonesifer 
said at a meeting with European Union officials in Brussels 
(AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/20). Stonesifer has been travelling inter-
nationally to "dru[m] up support for the fund" (Brand, Associated 
Press, 6/19). "This is only part of a comprehensive and unprecedented 
effort that is needed to stop this pandemic. Governments, the private 
sector and the nonprofit community all have to redouble efforts so 
that together we can break this chain of transmission," she added 
(Gates Foundation release, 6/19). 

Leveraging More Money

A gift from the foundation, a "key player" in global AIDS efforts, 
has been seen as "critical" to the success of the fund, and Stone-
sifer "expressed hope" that the donation would "act as a catalyst 
that stimulates and leverages other giving" (Washington Post, 6/20). 
EU officials have "stepped back" from donating to the fund, first 
proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in April, saying there 
were "not enough guarantees yet that the money would be spent cor-
rectly." EU officials want assurances that some of the money will go 
toward providing drugs for developing nations, and Poul Nielson, the 
EU's development director, said the fund needs to "broaden its ap-
proach" to include other infectious diseases such as malaria and tu-
berculosis. So far, the United States and France have been the only 
"large donor countries" to make contributions to the fund, of $200 
million and $135 million, respectively (Associated Press, 6/19). Ac-
tivists have complained that the U.S. contribution set "the bar too 
low." Congress is currently considering legislation that would in-
crease the U.S. commitment to $700 million over the next two years, 
but the fund is still "far short of its goal" of raising $7 billion 
to $10 billion. Still, Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of 
WHO, said the fund is "off to a good start" and the "fact that gov-
ernments, companies and private foundations are joining together to 
back the fund illustrates that this is not business as usual" 
(Collins, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/20).

Reaction

In a statement issued today by his spokesperson's office, Annan said 
the Gates Foundation donation will "not only serve as a powerful ex-
ample to other private donors and to governments; in its own right, 
it will probably save millions of lives." He added, "It is only 
through a truly global partnership, bringing together governments, 
corporations, foundations, civil society and individuals, that we can 
hope to pool the leadership and raise the resources needed to defeat 
this scourge" (Annan statement, 6/20). Mark Malloch Brown, head of 
the U.N. Development Program, said the contribution "signals a new 
phase" in the life of the fund and sends a "powerful signal to other 
foundations, businesses, non-profit groups and individuals that they 
can and must get involved" (Brand, AP/London Independent, 6/20). Paul 
DiDonato, executive director of Funders Concerned About AIDS, a group 
that "seeks to mobilize philanthropists," said the sector's response 
"has been good but could have been better" and added that the Gates 
Foundation donation "goes a decent way toward making the response 
commensurate with the problem" (Bank et al., Wall Street Journal, 
6/20). 

Building on Past Gates Successes

Annan said the Gates Foundation's contribution will "form a corner-
stone of the emerging global effort to reverse the HIV/AIDS pandemic" 
(Annan statement, 6/19). While details of the fund's operations have 
not yet been finalized, the Wall Street Journal reports that Gates 
and other foundation officials are "being tapped as unofficial advis-
ers" and the fund "is being shaped in part by principles pioneered by 
several other Gates-backed health initiatives, most notably the 
Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations," the world's "largest 
independent vaccine program," to which the foundation donated $750 
million. The Journal reports that "parallels" with GAVI are already 
showing. A "confidential" blueprint of the fund's operation shows it 
will have a "small" executive board and secretariat and will utilize 
"mechanisms to ensure that the money flows rapidly and is wisely 
utilized." The Gates Foundation's contribution is "intended primarily 
to support" prevention efforts. But executives at other foundations 
say they "worry" that the global fund may come under "heavy pressure 
to channel spending" into treatment programs and that the United Na-
tions will "favor" governmental programs instead of "grassroots" ini-
tiatives, which many foundations deem "more effective." Executives of 
many foundations have "muted" these concerns in public because 
"[n]obody wants to be against a lot more money for HIV, which is a 
critical thing," Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman said. 
However, there remains a "concern about how to make sure that once 
the money is raised, it's spent in a way that's really effective and 
not just dribbled out in lots of small pots," he added (Wall Street 
Journal, 6/20).


--
Coca-Cola to Use Drink Distribution Network for HIV/AIDS Prevention, 
Treatment Materials

Coca-Cola Co. plans to contribute its "massive distribution system 
and marketing muscle" to HIV/AIDS prevention and testing efforts in 
Africa, the Wall Street Journal reports. Coca-Cola and UNAIDS today 
are scheduled to announce a partnership that "will involve everything 
from lending marketing executives to AIDS organizations to ... possi-
bly condoms on Coke delivery trucks" (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 
6/20). The effort will be jointly run by Coca-Cola's not-for-profit 
arm, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, and UNAIDS. As Africa's largest 
private employer, Coca-Cola believes that its "fabled advertising 
reach" will enable the company to distribute pamphlets, testing 
equipment and other information to health groups and individuals 
across the continent. Robert Lindsay, vice president of public af-
fairs for the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, said that the company 
plans to provide assistance to a youth education project in Zambia, 
boost marketing for anti-AIDS efforts in Nigeria and aid in the dis-
tribution of testing kits. UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot 
said of the partnership, "The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation brings sub-
stantial resources to the international battle against AIDS. Coca-
Cola Africa's special strength is its ability to bring its unrivaled 
marketing and logistics expertise to respond to the epidemic -- from 
the community to the highest political level" (Melvin, Atlanta Jour-
nal-Constitution, 6/20). Coca-Cola did not say how much money it 
plans to invest in the effort (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/20). Although 
Coca-Cola is considering making a financial contribution to fight the 
epidemic, it has not decided whether it will contribute to the global 
AIDS fund proposed in April by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Activists Agitated

Although some AIDS activists applauded Coca-Cola's effort, others 
criticized the company for "delay[ing]" the project, which AIDS 
groups had been urging the company to adopt for several years. Eric 
Sawyer, an activist with ACT/UP-New York, also criticized the pro-
ject's focus on prevention, stating that the company should also help 
to increase access to anti-AIDS drugs. "Getting prevention and educa-
tion out is a first-line priority, but people need to know there are 
treatments available to extend their lives," he said. Coca-Cola does 
cover the cost of anti-AIDS drugs for its 1,500 employees and their 
families, and is considering extending drug coverage to the "thou-
sands" of workers at its African bottling plants, "who suffer from 
the disease at a higher rate."

Greater Business Participation

UNAIDS officials hope that Coca-Cola's involvement in fighting AIDS 
will spur other corporations to join the battle. "Coke has such a big 
and influential name. In many countries, I think there will be quite 
an impact. We're hoping this partnership will set a tone for others," 
Piot said. The Wall Street Journal reports that "corporate involve-
ment in Africa's AIDS crisis is slowly building," with DaimlerChrys-
ler AG and Unilever PLC recently announcing efforts to fight the epi-
demic. The Coca-Cola/UNAIDS partnership is "among a number" of corpo-
rate efforts that the United Nations and UNAIDS plan to announce be-
fore the special U.N. General Assembly session on HIV/AIDS next week 
(Wall Street Journal, 6/20).


--
Natsios' Comments on Time 'Not U.S. Policy,' U.S. Official Says; 
Criticism of Statements Continues

Commenting on USAID chief Andrew Natsios, whose comments regarding 
Africans' inability to understand Western time drew ire from many 
groups, National Security Council Senior Director of African Affairs 
Jendayi Frazer said that Natsios' statements represented personal 
opinion and not U.S. policy, the Boston Globe reports. Earlier this 
month, Natsios said that it was "unwise to put significant funds" 
into antiretroviral drug treatment in Africa because of a lack of 
health care infrastructure, including hospitals and physicians. He 
said that because many Africans "have never seen a clock before, or a 
watch," they would find it difficult to adhere to the strict schedule 
required for antiretroviral treatment. Frazer said, "On the cultural 
issues about clocks and watches and times, and morning and noon and 
afternoon, I think it's always extremely important, when a government 
official speaks, that they clearly designate when they are talking 
from their own personal perspective versus what is official policy. 
We never had any discussion with any administration official on 
HIV/AIDS on times. That is a very personal perspective" (Donnelly, 
Boston Globe, 6/19).

Critics Remain

Editorials and opinion pieces criticizing Natsios' public comments 
continue to appear in newspapers across the country. A Boston Globe 
editorial says that the "bigger problem with Natsios' remarks is that 
they bespeak defeatism in the effort to limit the scourge of AIDS in 
Africa. ... It's as though Dwight Eisenhower had assembled the D-Day 
invasion force in 1944 and then decided it would be more prudent to 
use it to defend England and let Hitler keep Europe." Regarding 
Natsios' conviction that prevention should be emphasized over treat-
ment efforts in Africa, the editorial says, "A high priority must be 
given to prevent the spread of the disease, but work in developing 
countries has shown that treatment with drugs can both save lives and 
spur prevention." The editorial concludes, "The United States, to its 
credit, is the single largest contributor by far to global AIDS ef-
forts. For those efforts to succeed in Africa, the most severely af-
fected countries have to display more political leadership than they 
have so far. At the same time, Western countries have to supply re-
sources, technology, and a can-do spirit. Natsios should think less 
about wristwatches and more about history, which won't be kind to 
rich nations that let poor ones be destroyed by AIDS" (Boston Globe, 
6/17). In his New York Times column, Bob Herbert says that Natsios' 
"view of Africans as so ignorant they can't muster the concept of 
taking their medicine on time has become a touchstone of the Bush ad-
ministration," adding that the "brutal stereotyping of the Dark Con-
tinent lives on, encouraged by U.S. government officials who should 
know better." Although it is important to encourage prevention, Her-
bert writes that the "truth is that both prevention and drug therapy 
are desperately needed in Africa." He continues, "The United States, 
a rich and healthy nation, cannot close its eyes to suffering on such 
a colossal scale. There is medication available to ease the suffering 
and its cost is coming down. Now the steps must be taken to get the 
medicine to the people in need. ... [I]t would be the everlasting 
shame of the United States if its officials proved to be a barrier to 
that kind of life-saving treatment." Herbert mentions that Natsios 
has "reluctantly acknowledged that some limited use of antiretroviral 
treatment in Africa may be O.K." and has expressed regret if any of-
fense was taken to his statements (Herbert, New York Times, 6/11). 

--
The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, 
a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, by National 
Journal Group Inc. c 2001 by National Journal Group Inc. and Kaiser 
Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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