|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.29, 19.7.01, p2|
ANTI-POVERTY campaigners are urging that the €7.5 billion which the European Commission is returning to several EU states in budget rebates should be donated to the fight against AIDS and other major diseases in the world's poorest countries.
The activists contend that the unexpected windfall - announced in late May - could make a huge contribution towards providing the €11.5 billion which UN chief Kofi Annan has estimated is needed each year to significantly lower AIDS-related deaths.
Leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries are due to respond to Annan's appeal for contributions to the newly-established Global Health Fund at their meeting in Genoa this weekend. The Commission announced yesterday (18 July) that it will be contributing €120 million to the fund this year.
Development agencies say this is far from adequate and member states need to consider donating the money returned to them to the health fund. "We're not advocating that the member states use all of their rebates for this purpose," said Action Aid's Louise Hilditch. "What we're saying is that these are the kinds of amounts which they could be contributing."
Meanwhile, further talks are to be held at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva next week on resolving differences between the EU and US on how the international patent system can make vital medicines unaffordable in developing countries. Washington has reacted angrily to a proposal from Brussels on promoting 'flexibility' clauses in the WTO's intellectual property agreement, which can empower developing countries to force manufacturers to charge lower prices for their drugs. And in a paper launched today (19 July), relief agency Oxfam has condemned pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for "aggressively" protecting the patents on its products in developing countries. The report highlights how Zoltec, a Pfizer-made drug prescribed for infections associated with AIDS, was sold for €9.53 per pill in Brazil last year. This made it almost twice as expensive as the cheapest 'generic' drug with similar properties.
Pfizer says it is not indifferent to the AIDS epidemic - it has donated medicines to developing nations. In the past year, it has also run training courses for doctors in South Africa and is planning to do likewise in 50 other countries.
Anti-poverty campaigners are urging that the €7.5 billion which the European Commission is returning to several EU Member States in budget rebates should be donated to the fight against AIDS and other major diseases in the world's poorest countries.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Health, Politics and International Relations|