African Activists Demand: Show Us the Money

08/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

At the International AIDS Society conference in Capetown South Africa this past week, leading AIDS and human rights groups from the region launched an impressive and innovative campaign. Some may remember that African leaders committed to putting 15% of their budgets toward health--yet most are far, far behind.

So the AIDS and Right Alliance of Southern Africa has created the "Lords of the Bling" going after Presidents Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and others.

At a session led by Doctors Without Borders it was revealed the extent to which the economic crisis is damaging the effort to ensure Universal Access to AIDS treatment, care and prevention by next year. The world has been off track but now we're losing ground:

  • Tanzania's HIV budget had been reduced by 25%;
  • Swaziland has reduced its 2011 treatment coverage target from 60% to 50%;
  • Uganda has sent an instruction to stop enrolment in some Pepfar (US government) funded NGOs;
  • Malawi is expecting a national drug shortage and is devising an emergency contingency plan;
  • South Africa has already reported stock-outs and revealed that there is a financial ceiling in terms of what can be done to reach to the National Strategic Plan targets.
Leaders of the world look out... folks are paying attention. Meanwhile, amidst the economic crisis we're left to wonder: where is the Obama and Clinton leadership?