Friday, November 04, 2005

The AIDS Crisis-Problem Solved?

The official press release of the USG touts the importance of these summits because "our leaders ...come together to solve problems."
Apparently the HIV/AIDS pandemic is solved because "With strong support from President Bush, this goal (of providing ARV to 600,000 by 2005) has been met and surpassed: today 640,00 people have benefited from this particular Summit mandate." ( "The Opportunity Summit," statement by Thomas A. Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Affairs; "What is the Summit of the Americas?" Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Press Release, 26 Oct. 2005.)

We are skeptical. Even accepting the USG´s assertions regarding the number of those in treatment in the Latin American region, current US policies will undermine access to ARVs, as well as undercut international trade and human rights laws and norms. Free trade agreements (FTAs) such as CAFTA and AFTA , while purporting to promote liberty and free enterprise, erode the infrastructure necessary for basic health care and development. The pharmaceutical patent-related provisions of these FTAs reduce the safeguards in place (by the major international trade/intellectual property law, TRIPS) for promoting public health, effectively blocking access to and use of affordable ARVs in Latin America for those who need them most.

Also, human rights obligations require goverments to promote and protect health--this means taking measures to provide greater access to life saving medications, such as ARVs, rather than grant more opportunities to big pharmaceutical manufacturers to profit. (For specific information, please contact the blog writers.)

It is a wonderful idea that leaders can sit down and solve problems. But misdirecting the public from knowing what is being negotiated elsewhere just creates more problems.

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