< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: Setback for AIDS treatment in Burma

Friday, December 30, 2005

Setback for AIDS treatment in Burma

From the Washington Post an article about combating AIDS in Burma:

The secretive Burmese government had long denied that this country had a major AIDS problem, but international health experts now say it is among the worst in Asia. With antiretroviral drugs for AIDS costing about 10 times a teacher's monthly salary, few Burmese can pay for them. Fewer than 5 percent of those who need the drugs can get them free from the government and international agencies, according to U.N. estimates.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a Geneva-based foundation, had planned to expand funding to triple the number of HIV-positive people receiving subsidized medication. But in August, it canceled a program to fight the three diseases in Burma and ended $87 million in funding, because of new restrictions imposed by the military government on travel and the import of medical supplies.
The fund's decision highlights a moral dilemma over how to operate in a country that has one of the world's worst human rights records but is also on the brink of a humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people. This quandary has stoked a sharp, behind-the-scenes dispute between democracy advocates in the United States and Thailand -- who welcomed Global Fund's decision -- and humanitarian officials and many diplomats in Burma.
Critics of relief programs in Burma argue that the country's corrupt, repressive rulers make it impossible to deliver humanitarian aid and that such programs can instead bring reprisals against Burmese who participate in them. Relief efforts, they say, may only enrich the government -- which is facing broad U.S. economic sanctions -- while lending it greater international legitimacy.

Click here to read the full article.

--Tom Hayes


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