Airfare tax to raise cash for AIDS drugs

Sept. 19, 2006 at 10:33 AM
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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Five countries announced a plan Tuesday to raise $300 million from airline ticket taxes to provide impoverished children worldwide with AIDS drugs.

The initiative was unveiled at the United Nations in New York by Brazil, Great Britain, Chile, France and Norway, which are working through the Geneva-based Unitaid organization, The New York Times reported.

"We would not permit thousands of children to die in the United States and France," said Jean Dussourd, who is coordinating the project for French President Jacques Chirac. "Why should we allow that in Asia and Africa?"

So far, France is the biggest contributor to Unitaid, providing $250 million of the $300 million for next year from an airline ticket tax it began collecting this summer.

Unitaid has requested former U.S. President Bill Clinton's foundation to negotiate with drug companies for bulk discounts, the report said.

The group seeks to pay for the treatment of 100,000 children with AIDS, and another 100,000 people who have become resistant to antiretroviral AIDS drugs, and also treatment for 150,000 children with tuberculosis and 28 million with malaria, the Times said.

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