Activists are calling for a tax of 0.005% on all financial transactions worldwide, to raise some $33 billion dollars per year for development and particularly to replace dwindling funding for life-saving AIDS drugs. Protestors at the world AIDS forum in Vienna on 21 July said a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions would be one of a series of new funding initiatives, and said the time is right to propose it ahead of a review summit on Millennium Development Goals in September and a G20 meeting in November.
Funding from by rich donor nations to poor countries fighting HIV and AIDS fell back in 2009 to $7.6 billion, from $7.7 bln in 2008. The turnaround set alarm bells ringing for tens of thousands of people in Africa who are kept alive through expensive courses of ART drugs. Cutbacks could be a death sentence.
The 2009 decline ended 6 years of increases averaging more than 10% a year. The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is seeking $17 bln in pledges for 2011-2013, compare to total funding of $1.2 bln for anti-HIV drugs and other initiatives in 2002.
According to news reports, campaigners at the AIDS forum said it was time for innovative financing solutions for development. Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development, said: “It is up to us to explain to the Heads of State that that they do not have any other solution because we know it only depends on political will.” His organisation UNITAID (www.unitaid.eu) has implemented a small tax on airline tickets. In its first 2 years of existence UNITAID committed $730 million of fresh funds to tackle HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. A portion of thoe funds came from low- and middle- income countries, mostly through the air tax mechanism. UNITAID, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (www.clintonfoundation.org) has stimulated the manufacture of new medicine formulations as well as funded an integrated package of care for HIV-positive children.