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Opinions: Canada’s Role In Global Health; Drug Licensing Agreements Promote Drug Access; Funding For USAID, State; Haiti

Canada Must Lead To Ensure Robust Efforts In Global Fight Against HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria

After outlining the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Michel Kazatchkine, the organization’s executive director, highlights the role Canada can play in determining “whether the world can overcome AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria” in a Toronto Star opinion piece, noting the upcoming G8 and G20 summits, as well as the Millennium Development Goal meeting later this year.

“As the host of the G8 and G20, Canada could make a significant difference for maternal and child health if its initiative leads to bold, well-funded and comprehensive action, including for women’s sexual and reproductive health. Canada also needs to ensure that the G8 follows through on its commitments from previous summits to achieve ‘universal access’ to HIV treatment and prevention measures. This is no time to slow down the world’s efforts on AIDS, TB and malaria. Rather, it is time to redouble them,” he concludes (6/22).

Licensing Agreements Between Western, Indian Drug Companies Increases Patients’ Access To HIV Meds

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute reflects on how better relationships between drug manufacturers, governments and donors over the past decade have boosted access to life-saving HIV drugs. “Improvements are due in part to the innovative licensing agreements arising between some Western and Indian drug companies,” Bate writes before citing several cases of the benefits of such agreements to the drug companies and patients. “These agreements have held even though the governments of India, Thailand, and Brazil continue to threaten Western drug companies with loss of patent protection if they do not lower their prices. The best producers have found a way of moving beyond this confrontation, and are increasing access to good quality medicines regardless of myopic governmental failures.”

“The hope of today is a far cry from the despair of a decade ago, when GlaxoSmithKline (the world’s second largest drug firm) and 41 other Western companies making HIV drugs sued the South African government for importing patent-breaking copies of their products from India,” Bate notes. “Today the HIV drugs coming out of India not only pass the required quality controls set by agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but are often nearly identical to originator brands” (6/21).

Congress Should Back Obama’s Funding Request For USAID, State

A Baltimore Sun opinion piece by Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Micah Zenko and Research Associate Rebecca Friedman highlights the case for fulfilling President Barack Obama’s funding request for USAID and the State Department in light of the potential $4 billion in cuts from Obama’s foreign aid budget. “It is the primary job of State and USAID to prevent weak states from becoming unstable and to prevent instability from becoming war. The chorus of military leaders begging for fully funding civilian agencies derives from three realizations of the past decade,” Zenko and Friedman write before outlining the importance of foreign aid.

Zenko and Friedman conclude that “if Congress is willing to trust the Pentagon’s assessment of its own budgetary needs and allocate the full $708 billion requested (not to mention supplemental funding), Congress should [also] be equally accepting of the military leadership’s plea to fund President Obama’s foreign affairs budget with the full $58.5 billion requested” (6/21).

‘Legitimate’ Government Essential For Haitian Rebuilding

A New York Times editorial highlights “two areas require urgent attention from the Haitian government and its main international backers, the United Nations and the United States:” keeping women and children safe, and planning for elections. The newspaper writes that “the camps need more lights and security patrols” because “sexual assaults are widespread, and for girls and women, who are frightened even to use showers or toilets, life is horrible.”

The editorial also states “[t]o move forward with rebuilding plans, Haiti needs a legitimately elected government” and calls on President Rene Preval to “set an election date and to reorganize the electoral council to restore its legitimacy among skeptical Haitians” (6/18).