Please see the attached Star Tribune editorial that appeared today regarding
Senator Coleman's commitment to global AIDS funding. Many thanks to all of
you for keeping this issue at the forefront of the Senator's agenda, and you
can continue to do so by calling the Senator (follow instructions in
article). We must continue to express our concern on behalf of the
Minnesota Medical Community. Sorry for any cross-postings.
University of Minnesota Medical Student
Co-chair, American Medical Student Association (Minnesota Chapter)
Editorial: Coleman and AIDS
Sen. Norm Coleman has been to Africa and seen the devastation of AIDS. He
knows the disease is killing 6,500 people a day there, and that the AIDS
virus has spawned a true plague. He says he wants to do
all he can to stop the pandemic, and grants that America must lead the
quest. Yet if has he a chance to vote on the matter this week -- as he
almost certainly will when the Senate considers the $87 billion supplemental
request from President Bush -- the Minnesota senator is likely to resist
amendments to spend $3 billion needed to fight global AIDS in 2004.
How can this be -- from a man who praised President George Bush's
state-of-the-union commitment of $15 billion in anti-AIDS funding over five
years? Coleman offers a shrugging answer: What matters,
he says, is that the money is ultimately spent; he calls the notion that $3
billion is needed this year a "bogus political argument." Besides, says
Coleman, what he saw in Africa confirmed his earlier fears: Africa's
infrastructure is so feeble, he insists, that the continent couldn't figure
out how to spend $3
billion on AIDS if it had the chance.
How Coleman can be so sure of this from a one-week visit to three African
countries is hard to fathom. Specialists who have spent more time in more
places say the world's up-and-running anti-AIDS groups could actually spend
more than $8 billion wisely next year.
Indeed, spending $3 billion in 2004 -- instead of the $2 billion Coleman and
his White House friends now favor -- could have a marked effect on the
course of the epidemic. The extra $1 billion would treat 400,000 people who
would otherwise die within two years -- and prevent 1.6 million people from
These estimates come from the world's top AIDS experts-- from Harvard
analysts, U.N. epidemiologists, clinicians in besieged nations. Their
assessment is based on research that is certainly a fairer assessment of
global "absorptive capacity" than one senator's anecdote-based impression.
The world's AIDS-plagued countries are crying out for America's help -- more
than even $3 billion could provide. But that amount is a sensible start -- a
message to the world that Americans really do care about the AIDS scourge.
Just this past July, Coleman himself seemed prepared to join the $3 billion
club. He voted with 77 of his colleagues to spend that full amount on AIDS.
Now he claims it's too much. In saying so, he shows a
lamentable willingness to let avoidable suffering continue.
Surely he will think again about this matter, and surely Minnesotans will
insist that he do so. They can call him at 202-224-5641 or 651-645-0323 or
e-mail him at [log in to unmask] to urge him to
devote $3 billion to the 2004 AIDS fight. To make a toll-free call, they can
dial 1-877-HOPEUSA (a service provided by DATA -- www.data.org -- the
nonprofit launched by Irish rock star and activist
Bono). The call will be directed to the U.S. Capitol switchboard.
As calamity claims more lives across the planet, Americans are coming to
realize that a death across an ocean is ultimately as haunting as a death
across the hall. All the world's people belong to each other
and must care for each other. Coleman needs to be reminded of this fact, and
that $3 billion is a good start toward honoring it.
© Copyright 2003 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
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