Loans to buy AIDS drugs are rejected by Africans
South Africa and Namibia have refused the United States’ offer of $1 billion in yearly loans to finance the purchase of AIDS drugs. The African countries stated that affordable drugs are needed and that the loans would only burden their economies and send them further into debt. The U.S. Export-Import Bank made the loan offer to 24 southern African countries, but none have formally accepted the offer so far.
Developing countries have been urging the West to make less expensive anti-AIDS drugs and to allow poor countries to overcome patents in order to manufacture generic versions of the drugs.
Earlier this year, the Clinton administration issued an executive order promising not to interfere with African countries that did not follow American patent law to secure cheaper drugs. Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, the permanent secretary for the Namibian Ministry of Health, believes that efforts to support generic drugs are more helpful than loan programs. He stated that accepting the loans would send the country “deeply into debt.”
New York Times (www.nytimes.com) (22/08/00) P. A6.