Jubilee 2000/USA Condemns New Loan Program for AIDS Drugs
Campaign calls for debt cancellation, plus grants for prevention,
testing and treatment programs, improvement and construction of
health care facilities, and the provision of generic medicine.
On July 19, 2000, the US Export-Import Bank announced a pilot program
to finance $1 billion per year in exports of HIV- and AIDS-related
pharmaceuticals and supplies to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Under this program, major U.S. drug companies will offer their name-
brand products at a discount, and Ex-Im Bank will finance their
export with five-year loans to 24 eligible countries. Most of the
loans are expected to carry an interest rate of about 7 percent.
The price of various so-called combination therapies of drugs, which
can substantially prolong the lives of HIV patients, range between
$10,000 and $15,000 each year per patient. Drug companies are
expected to reduce those prices to between $1,000 and $2,000 per
patient in sales to impoverished countries. The U.S.-backed loans would then finance the purchase of the drugs by African countries at
those lower prices.
Jubilee 2000/USA condemned the new loan program, calling it, "a
repeat of the flawed loan schemes and tied aid that have led to the
current debt crisis...Even if US pharmaceutical companies sell their products at a discount, they are still unlikely to be affordable for the average African afflicted with HIV/AIDS." The plan "would
significantly increase an overwhelming debt burden that is already crippling economies, destroying health care systems, and closing
Jubilee 2000/USA called, instead, for debt cancellation. "Such debt
cancellation could relieve these countries of tens of billions in
debts - far more funding than is currently being proposed in any HIV/AIDS response initiative. The US and its allies should also
address the HIV/AIDS pandemic with other real solutions, such as
grants for prevention, testing and treatment programs, improvement and construction of health care facilities, and the provision of
generic medicines. The Export-Import Bank loan scheme is part of the problem, not the solution."
More than 13 million Africans have died from AIDS and nearly 24
million people on the continent have either HIV or AIDS. More than
two-thirds of those with AIDS live in the sub-Saharan region and
economists have said the escalating epidemic is the biggest threat to
the continent's economy.
What is the Ex-Im bank? The Ex-Im Bank is an independent U.S.
government agency established in 1934 to create US jobs through
exports. Using funds from the federal government, it helps finance
the sale of U.S. exports primarily to countries considered "emerging markets" throughout the world, by providing loans, guarantees, and insurance. In October 1997, Congress reauthorized Eximbank's operations until the year 2001.
Learn more about HIV/AIDS in Africa, and about the loan program, from
web links at the end of this message!
Jubilee 2000/USA Statement:
Jubilee 2000/USA Denounces New Export-Import Bank Loan Initiative
Loans for HIV/AIDS will increase debt, undermine cost effective
Jubilee 2000/USA denounces the recently announced initiative of the
United States Export-Import Bank regarding HIV/AIDS. This new
initiative would provide loans at commercial interest rates to African nations suffering from the scourge of HIV/AIDS so that these
nations could purchase treatment drugs from US pharmaceutical companies. These loans would have a repayment term of five years.
Jubilee 2000/USA condemns this initiative on several counts. These loans will perpetuate the destructive cycles of indebtedness. Our platform specifically speaks to the need for lenders to also bear responsibility for debts. This initiative is a repeat of the flawed loan schemes and tied aid that have led to the current debt crisis. The US government is rightly seeking debt cancellation for many of these countries, yet this program would significantly increase an overwhelming debt burden that is already crippling economies, destroying health care systems, and closing schools. Many of these countries suffering from the HIV/AIDS pandemic are so poor they cannot borrow at commercial rates, and instead receive grants or
concessional lending from donor agencies. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a
humanitarian crisis, not a marketing opportunity for US
Since the first AIDS deaths were recorded in the 1980s, 83 percent of
these deaths have been in sub-Saharan Africa, and 95 percent of the
world's AIDS orphans are Africans.
The Export-Import Bank program would require African nations to
purchase HIV/AIDS drugs from US pharmaceutical companies. Thus, the
primary beneficiaries of this program will be US pharmaceutical
companies, not the poor of Africa. This initiative also draws attention from the critical issue of HIV/AIDS drug prices. Rather
than provide access to new resources, it may instead pressure African
nations not to purchase cheaper, generic drugs to fight HIV/AIDS. Even if US pharmaceutical companies sell their products at a
discount, they are still unlikely to be affordable for the average
African afflicted with HIV/AIDS.
The international campaign to cancel the crushing debt of the world's impoverished countries has forced the United States and its rich allies in the Group of Seven to take steps to address the crippling
debt burden. The richest nations also pledged at their recent summit
new resources to fight HIV/AIDS in the poorest countries.
The world's rich nations should live up to their promises. In this Jubilee year, they should cancel the debts of indebted, impoverished nations. This debt cancellation would free up resources that could
be dedicated to health care programs and the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS more specifically. Such debt cancellation could relieve these countries of tens of billions in debts- far more funding than is currently being proposed in any HIV/AIDS response initiative. The US and its allies should also address the HIV/AIDS pandemic with other real solutions, such as grants for prevention, testing and
treatment programs, improvement and construction of health care
facilities, and the provision of generic medicines. The Export-
Import Bank loan scheme is part of the problem, not the solution.
Resources and background info on the web:
The impact of HIV/AIDS and crushing debt on Africa:
UNICEF says the AIDS epidemic is the greatest health crisis
facing the world's children today, and every country, international
organization and business must unite to combat it; UNICEF says in the
first 10 months of 1998, 1,300 teachers in Zambia reportedly died of the disease, two-thirds the number of new teachers trained a year:
The UN says the AIDS epidemic is expected to wipe out about half the current population of teenagers in the worst-hit African nations, devastating economies and shattering societies. The United
Nations says $4 billion per year in assistance needed to fight AIDS
in Africa and calls for debt relief:
UN report, issued June 27, 2000, estimates over One-third of
Today's 15-year-olds Will Die of Aids in Worst-affected Countries --
for info click on http://www.africapolicy.org/docs00/hiv0007.htm
Zambian doctors fired while AIDS epidemic rages:
The connection between HIV/AIDS and crushing debt:
Uganda says HIPC debt reduction
program will allow it to
redirect $110 million to fight HIV/AIDS over three years:
US government assistance to fight HIV/AIDS:
Senate passes authorization of initial funding for trust
to combat AIDS and HIV!
The Export-Import Bank's loan program:
The Export-Import Bank's description of the program:
A coalition of AIDS activists protested the plan:
Oxfam Great Britain also criticized the program:
A news story summarizing the debate over the program --
The British newspaper, the Guardian, covered the story:
More perspectives on the Ex-Im Bank:
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The underside of the booming economy is the growing problem
of hunger in the
US. One in 10 families cannot afford the food they need. Fewer people are
eligible for food stamps. Many of those who depend on food stamps and other assistant programs are not sharing in current economic benefits; charities
and food banks providing the additional assistance are finding their
resources strained. The Hunger Relief Acts (S. 1805 and H.R. 3192) are
bipartisan efforts to remove many barriers that prevent those in need from
participating in the Food Stamp Program and help close the gap between need
and assistance. Low-income legal aliens would be eligible to receive food stamps. More money would also be available to food banks with emergency
services. Both bills have large bipartisan support, but some predict that
much of what is in this legislation will be attached to an end-of-the-year
spending bill, and with that, some of the provisions in the bills may be
dropped, making the Hunger Relief Act less effective in combating hunger.
Contact your Senator or Representative; urge them to support this act if they
have not already done so.
Brother Leo Shea, F.M.S.
Some questions from the US Bishops "Faithful
How will we protect the weakest in our midst--innocent, unborn children?
How will we address the tragedy of 35,000 children dying every day of the consequences of hunger, debt, and lack of development around the world?
How will we address the growing number of families and individuals without
affordable and accessible health care? How can health care protect and
enhance human life and dignity?
How will our society best combat continuing prejudice, bias, and
discrimination, overcome hostility toward immigrants and refugees, and heal
the wounds of racism, religious bigotry, and other forms of discrimination?
How will our nation resist what Pope John Paul II calls a growing "culture
of death"? Why does it seem that our nation is turning to violence to solve
of its most difficult problems -- to aboriton to deal with difficult
pregnancies, to the death penalty to combat crime, to eithanasia and assisted
suicide to deal with the burdens of age and illness?
Brother Leo Shea, F.M.S.
Sign The Rainforest Site Petition, which will be delivered
to the United
Nations Commission on Sustainable Development this Fall 2000. The petition
urges the UN to enforce the international community’s political and legal
commitments to protect the rainforests. All you have to do is click on the
link below to sign up - and don't forget to pass this e-mail along to all of
Thought you might want to help.
Bro. Warren Perrotto, MSC