U.S. Fights Back in AIDS Dispute
Washington's moral agenda, trade policies and funding guidelines have come in for stinging criticism at the meeting this week from activists and world leaders, including French President Jacques Chirac and Annan.
But Tobias backed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who sparked a row this week by questioning the primacy of condoms in preventing infection and said people should stay faithful and abstain from sex.
The Bush plan pledges $15 billion -- $10 billion of it new money -- over five years for care, prevention and treatment in 15 countries, mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, which account for 70 percent of all infections.
Critics say that bilateral effort undermines the Global Fund, to which the United States is already the biggest donor.
Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian diplomat and special U.N. envoy on AIDS in Africa, was among them.
"The American money going to 15 countries is not leadership on AIDS. It's a significant role, but the global fund is in 120 countries. That's a more profound sense of leadership. It responds to the problem in a far more universal way," he said.
Tobias showed "an inability to recognize the way the world most effectively works," Lewis told Reuters.
Annan has urged the United States to show the same commitment to AIDS -- which has claimed 20 million lives and infects 14,000 people a day -- as it shows in the battle against terrorism.
Chirac, in a speech read on his behalf, said a U.S. drive for bilateral trade deals was undermining an international pact to provide cheap generic AIDS drugs to the developing world and was "tantamount to blackmail."
The conference -- the biggest gathering of scientists, activists, drug company bosses and AIDS sufferers -- has seen daily protests against Bush, other G8 leaders and the drug industry, all accused of not doing enough to fight the pandemic.
The Bush plan has also drawn fire for requiring that drugs purchased with U.S. funds for use in developing countries be approved by the Federal Drug Administration.
Tobias, the former chairman and chief executive of U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, said the president's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief would buy safe and effective drugs from the cheapest source of supply.
But he said it was vital that any cheap generics used met the highest possible standards.
Critics fear the requirement for FDA approval is a tactic to protect patented drug brands from U.S. pharmaceutical companies from cheap generic competitors.
Additional reporting by Darren Schuettler
Full Legal Notice
© 2004 Reuters