Former President Bill Clinton addressed the 18th annual International AIDS Conference today in Vienna, Austria, emphasizing the importance of monitoring how foreign aid in the fight against the AIDS virus is spent – and misspent – as news of a promising new AIDS vaccine has become the focus of the conference.
“In too many countries too much money goes to pay for too many people to go to too many meetings, get on too many airplanes,. Too much money is spent on reports that sit on shelves.” Clinton said. “Keep in mind that every dollar we waste today puts a life at risk.”
Clinton said organizations working to fight AIDS/HIV need to do their jobs “faster, better, and cheaper” to help make their case when they approach governments around the world for funding support as HIV treatment increases globally and promising new vaccines are in development, and stood up for President Barack Obama (protesters in Vienna this week have pounced on Obama’s perceived inaction).
“We also have to change the way we do what we do,” Clinton said. “The world is awash with trouble. It is easy to rail at a government and say: ‘Why doesn’t the government give us more money?’.
If we are going to make this case, they have to believe that we are doing our job faster, better and cheaper – and that we have the moral standing to go ask people to give us more money…
I completely understand why the advocates for greater AiIDS funding have loudly protested, but I do not think it is either fair or accurate to say the president has gone back on his promises, as if it was a callous walking away.”
This week the World Health Organization is reporting that more than 5.2 million people worldwide are receiving HIV treatment, an increase of more than 1.2 million over 2009 estimates, and predicting that the cost for HIV treatment worldwide in 2011 will be $9 billion. Promising new AIDS vaccines are on the immediate horizon, but Clinton and other speakers (including Bill Gates, whoe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been one of the biggest non-profit funding sources for AIDS research, prevention, and treatment efforts )at the International AIDS Conference have voiced their concern that international recession spending cuts could contribute to the calamity while a vaccine waits in the wings.
“The investments we make today can not only save millions of lives but millions of dollars tomorrow,” said Dr Bernhard Schwartlander, Director, Evidence, Strategy and Results, UNAIDS. “People with weaker immune systems who come late for treatment require more complex and costly drugs and services than those who start treatment earlier and are healthier.