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Obama Breaks Campaign Promise About Spending On AIDS

Add this to the already long list of broken campaign promises and pledges made by Barack Obama. Democracynow reports that he has broken his campaign promise about spending on AIDS.

From Amy Goodman and Democracynow’s Headline News for May 14, 2010 (you can see the entire show, listen to it on internet radio, or read a transcript here):

8 Arrested in NYC Protesting Obama’s AIDS Policies

Here in New York, protesters from ACT UP, Africa Action, Global Access Project and other groups rallied outside a Democratic fundraiser last night featuring President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Police arrested eight protesters after they chained themselves together and disrupted traffic. The groups accused Obama of reneging on his campaign pledge to spend at least $50 billion by 2013 for the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Since taking office, Obama has shifted funding away from international AIDS programs at a time when the number of people infected with HIV continues to grow by a million a year. The United Nations now estimates there is a global shortfall of about $17 billion for controlling the epidemic.

Jennifer Flynn of Global Access Project: “We are here today to protest in front of this $15,000-per-person dinner hosted by President Obama to the fact that he’s gone—he’s broken his promise to fully fund the fight against global AIDS. In both of his budgets that he’s issued, he has consistently cut funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.”

The Global Access Project’s web site adds more detail including this May 10th story entitled, "EXPLOSIVE AIDS IN AFRICA MEMO, MEDIA REPORTS REVEAL OBAMA’S ‘FAILING’ GLOBAL AIDS STRATEGY" (edited):

(New York., NY): President Obama’s strategy to fight AIDS in Africa is at risk of failing, according to advocacy organizations, who pointed today to new developments including leaked official Administration documents instructing major Global AIDS program implementers to stop enrolling sick and dying patients due to program underfunding, as well as recent media reports, including the cover story in the NY Times today, revealing President Obama has broken the promises on AIDS in Africa he made while campaigning, and that his Administration’s response to global AIDS is weakening.

The never-before-published document, a memo dated October 29, 2010, instructs AIDS program implementers in Uganda that they should:

"…expect to have a flat-lined budget for ARV [antiretroviral] treatment procurement that should not be exceeded"
"In filling treatment slots that are made empty through attrition….priority should be given to the sickest patients".

Meanwhile, the New York Times has an excellent editorial, "The Wavering War on AIDS" on its web site today. It notes that the international war on AIDS is faltering:

Donations from the United States and other wealthy countries have leveled off while the number of people infected with H.I.V., the AIDS virus, grows by a million a year. By one informed estimate, only $14 billion will be available of some $27 billion needed this year to fight the disease in the developing world. Fewer than 4 million of the 14 million people infected with the AIDS virus are getting drug treatment — far short of the goal of universal access set by the United States and others.

Donor nations cite the economic crisis and tight budgets as reasons to slow their contributions to the global fight against AIDS. The Obama administration and many donor nations apparently believe that more lives could be saved by fighting other cheaper diseases, such as respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, malaria and measles.

Referring to Uganda, the Times editorial notes:

The results of those decisions can be seen in Uganda and other countries where, as Donald G. McNeil Jr. recently reported in The Times, the campaign against AIDS seems to be falling apart.

Although the number of Ugandans receiving drug treatments jumped from fewer than 10,000 a decade ago to nearly 200,000 today, hundreds of thousands more Ugandans need the drugs and likely can’t get them because clinics now routinely turn new patients away.

That is partly because American funds have been frozen and clinics were told to stop enrolling new patients unless the government has a plan to pay for their treatment. It is also because Uganda has badly skewed its own priorities, such as negotiating to buy a squadron of fighter-bombers from Russia for $300 million.

Yup, fighter bombers over peoples needs including medical treatment!

Hugh, here’s another one for your Obama’s Scandals Sheet.

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