Zackie Achmat, the founder of South Africa’s venerable activist group, the Treatment Action Campaign, today made public a memo to the Obama Administration that details the potential negative consequences of a pull-back from US commitments on global AIDS. It comes in the wake of a protest last night in New York, where President Obama appeared at a fundraiser and several activists were arrested.
In this blog post, Achmat says that when former South African President Thabo Mbeki left office, “the ghosts of two million dead receded,” and activists felt they could catch their breath. “Now, a new sense of foreboding in relation to HIV has returned,” he writes. “After a decade long battle and a two year respite, a new unnecessary battle lies ahead for people living with HIV.”
He acknowledges that Obama inherited a host of vexing problems, from the global recession to two wars. “However, the misguided manner that President Obama’s advisors are seeking short-cuts to solve these incredibly difficult questions of HIV, health and development will rebound not on them but on his Presidency because he will take the decisions to decide who will live and who will die,” he says. “It is my view that the President is ill-advised with ‘quick-fix solutions’ and ‘good public-health’ sound bytes. These solutions are disguised as a broader ‘global strategy for development’ but they are another way of making poor, working and middle class people pay for the crisis. Investment in health, HIV and broader development is not only the right thing to do — new investments in health-care and in HIV result in growth and improved quality of life for the most vulnerable.”
Read the full post and the memo here: http://writingrights.org/2010/05/13/memo-to-the-us-government-we-will-reverse-your-policy-through-activism-locally-and-globally/