Archive article from The Socialist Issue 395
Capitalism can't solve AIDS crisis
Forty million people globally are infected with HIV.
25 million live in Africa (10% of the population) and by 2020, 90 million Africans could be infected.
The UN has warned that current levels of 'action' could see the disease bring the entire continent to its knees and generations of Africans lost.
The British government has said it intends to push Aids vaccine research up the political agenda when it assumes the presidency of the G8 in July.
The G8 have promised to set up a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and pledged more funding. There are estimates that an effective safe vaccine could be available by the end of the decade - but available to whom?
These hypocritical leaders are boasting that global funding for HIV has tripled in the past four years but it is now just a little over $6 billion - less than Britain has set aside for the invasion and occupation of Iraq!
The Bush administration has committed $15 billion - compared to $173 billion spent on the war, enough to fully fund world wide AIDS programmes for the next 17 years.
The US is also pursuing a religious neo-conservative agenda which gives priority to faith-based organisations promoting sexual abstinence over condom use.
US congress woman, Barbara Lee, opposes this policy: "In an age where five million people are newly infected each year, and women and girls too often do not have the choice to abstain, an abstinence-until-marriage programme is not only irresponsible, it's inhumane".
Bush and Co.
Bush and Co. are also pushing brand name anti-retroviral drugs which are more expensive than their generic counterparts.
And despite the fall in the yearly price of treatment from around £6,000 to £180, nine out of ten people who need the medicines are still not getting these life-saving treatments. Because HIV hits the poorest in the world - over one billion people live on less than two dollars a day - HIV infection and its treatment are clearly a class issue.
Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, a nation can only break drug patents if there is a national emergency but apparently the current crisis does not count. The head of Brazil's AIDS programme, Pedro Chequer, exposed the role of the WTO: "It's all a big agreement to keep developing nations hostage to the multinational industry."
While the price for the drug itself is now lower, the cost of foreign imported drugs in countries like India has increased massively from 50% to 85% of the treatment programme's cost. Local pharmaceutical firms are driven out of business as a result of the patent law.
Brazil, where the number of people with HIV has remained at about 600,000 for several years, has now broken the patent law and will be making copies of up to five drugs.
HIV/AIDS and the misery and suffering of millions worldwide have become a market for the capitalist criminals! The rampant spread of this virus and the millions it kills world wide are a by-product of this profit-driven system.
Susannah Price, the BBC UN correspondent, pointed the finger at those responsible for the epidemic by emphasising how dramatic is the impact of government policies on the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.
A recent UN report concluded that if millions of Africans are still being infected by 2025, "it will not be because there was no choice - [but] because collectively there was insufficient political will to change behaviour at all levels..."
But there is a collective will, the real collective of ordinary people - the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that have been protesting against the greedy drugs companies which would rather see millions die and whole communities devastated than their profits drop!
Let's show them and the rest of the world how strong our collective will is by mobilising huge numbers for the counter-G8 summit and demonstrations. The G8 are only eight, join the hundreds of thousands and demonstrate!
Make capitalism history - make socialism our future!
Attempts to demonise G8 protests have begun
The government and the police are already whipping up fears against the G8 protests 2-6 July. Tayside police have banned the 6 July march, that was to be held outside the Gleneagles Hotel on the first day of the G8 summit.
Gill Hubbard from G8 Alternatives, one of the groups organising the protest, has said that "a five mile ring of steel, costing just under £1 million, is being put up around the Gleneagles Hotel". Instead, the police want to move the protest to a park in the village of Auchterarder, which has a capacity of about 5,000.
Despite previous pledges to allow peaceful protests this is a deliberate attempt to demonise the protesters. This policy was first carried out in Seattle where peaceful demonstrators were attacked by riot police and water cannon (one media report said that the protestors were well-prepared because they had cagoules!).
The police then escalated the violence in Genoa where one demonstrator was shot and killed and others were savagely attacked by carabinieri as they slept and severely injured and hospitalised. Members of the Italian police are currently on trial over allegations of violence.
The Metropolitan police then used the example of Genoa to justify their corralling of May Day protestors for ten hours in London in 2001.
Chief Constable John Vine has stated that the G8 policing will be "in the best traditions of British policing" and in that spirit has refused to rule out the use of water cannon, riot police and even the SAS!
However, this won't put off the protesters, including the 250,000 who are expected on 2 July.
Hackney branch plans G8 campaign
In Hackney, we have been discussing how we can best campaign in the run-up to the G8 protests in July. Many young people are interested in the global issues, like world poverty, hunger and war - that will be thrown up by the G8 meeting.
Suzanne Beishon Hackney
Of course it is the G8 nations themselves who are responsible for these problems and our campaigning will highlight this and show the potential for socialist ideas to change the world.
In Hackney we are throwing everything into this campaign. As well as focusing on London Metropolitan University and a number of schools, we are also looking into alternative events at the local music venues Carling Academy and The Garage.
We've painted our campaign stalls 'signal red' and made sure that we have material from some of the sections of the Committee for a Workers' International to attract non-English speaking people in Hackney. We are looking into making some badges and will be selling the Make capitalism history wristbands.
The G8 is on the branch agenda every week and we have a wall calendar for people to add events to and their names to. We are organising a public meeting for 9 June and have set targets for getting people to the international youth camp and to the demo. We shall also be participating in the London-wide youth activities like the flag/banner making day.
International Socialist Resistance (ISR) will be part of the huge demo on 2 July.
ISR is also co-organising an international youth camp from 1-6 July with the International Socialists, the Scottish affiliate to the Committee for Workers' International (CWI).
The CWI is an international socialist organisation with members in 40 countries around the world, including the International Socialists in Scotland and the Socialist Party in England and Wales.
For more information:
ISR: www.anticapitalism.org.uk, 020 8558 7947, PO Box 858,
London E11 1YG.
International Socialists : www.cwiscotland.org
Committee for a Workers' International:
International youth camp
Africa's health workers
WHEN HE chairs the G8 summit at Gleneagles this July, Tony Blair will no doubt give another rendition of his anti-poverty - "the state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world" - speech.
But Tony should examine his own policies which are contributing to the impoverishment of the continent. Not least the looting of health workers from African countries to fill labour shortages in Britain's NHS.
Some 12,500 doctors and 16,000 nursing staff from Africa are working in Britain's health services. The BBC calculates that it cost African countries £270 million to train these workers.
Many countries that supply trained health workers to the West are hard hit by the Aids pandemic. Malawi has seen 100 trained health workers obtain work abroad in the last two years. Since 1999 Ghana has 'exported' more nurses to Western countries than it has trained. And of the 600 physicians trained in Zambia since independence, only 50 are currently still working in their own country.
The government admits that the ban on NHS recruitment from poor countries is failing because they are either recruited via the private sector or as 'temporary' workers whose contracts are then repeatedly extended.
LESS THAN 40p in every pound of aid 'donated' by Western countries goes on trying to eradicate poverty in the 'developing' world. Who benefits most? The ActionAid charity says it's "well-heeled consultants and companies in the west."
Even the World Bank admits that $20 billion out of the total global aid spending of $50 billion was creamed off by consultants. ActionAid estimates that 61% of aid flows were "phantom" rather than "real" - aid from the USA and France is almost 90% phantom. It lists some ways that aid is used to bolster companies in the 'donor' nation'.
These include "runaway spending on overpriced technical assistance from international consultants" and "tying aid to purchases from donor countries' own firms" and using "aid spending on immigration services".
Most of the world's richest countries only spent 0.25% of their national incomes on aid. That shrinks to below 0.1% when "phantom" aid is removed. 86 cents in each dollar of US aid is phantom. Much of it is tied to buying American goods and services.
Britain flies in foreign consultants to 'advise' poor countries. They are paid $18,000-$27,000 (about £9,900 -£14,800) a month in Vietnam, compared with $1,500-$3,000 for local experts. Many of these advisers are telling impoverished countries to buy products from the donor country and privatise all their facilities.
for Socialism 2005 Capitalism can't solve AIDS crisis