From the December 4, 2008 Financial Times
December 4, 2008
by Jeremiah Norris
From Mr Jeremiah Norris. Sir, The claim by Harvard University scholars that "the policies of Thabo Mbeki, the previous president, were responsible for 365,000 additional deaths as people were denied anti-retroviral drugs" ignores several mitigating facts ("South Africa returns to fold in fight with Aids", November 29). For one, the first anti-retroviral drug was not introduced until 1988. From that time onward to 2002, even as many more drugs came on the market, the World Health Organisation steadfastly refused to recommend any approach other than prevention to curb the global Aids epidemic. South Africa, as a WHO member state, followed its recommendations and limited Aids interventions to prevention. Second, during the administration of US president Bill Clinton, between 1993 and 2000, the policies of his foreign aid agency also restricted programme interventions to prevention. Third, in April 2002 the WHO permitted for the first time the entry of anti-retroviral drugs on to its essential medicines list. Member states scrupulously follow the WHO's recommendations on drug use. Finally, in January 2003 President George W. Bush changed the calculus on global Aids by introducing his emergency programme, which featured a combination of prevention plus treatment initiatives. The WHO followed suit in December by initiating its "3 by 5" programme to treat 3m Aids patients with anti-retroviral drugs by the end of 2005. Jeremiah Norris, Director, Center for Science in Public Policy, Hudson Institute, Washington, DC, US
Jeremiah Norris is a Senior Fellow and Director of Hudson Institute's Center for Science in Public Policy. He specializes in public-private partnerships in development assistance, trade and development, and global AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria policies.
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