Press Release: IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato Underscores Urgency of Collaborative and Global Fight Against HIV/AIDS and its Effects
December 1, 2004
Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2004, in which he underlined the IMF's focus and the urgency of current efforts to pursue a collaborative and global fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS:
"The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a matter of such serious concern—adversely affecting the development prospects of many of our member countries—that it calls for unprecedented actions. The effects of the epidemic touch on virtually all aspects of a country's social, economic, demographic, and political development. For those reasons alone, HIV/AIDS must be a major issue of concern to the IMF. The IMF's experience in these countries increasingly reflects this reality.
"Within its mandate, and in close cooperation with other development partners, the IMF is assisting member governments' efforts to fight the epidemic and cope with its economic and development consequences. The IMF has endorsed the call by the United Nations Secretary-General for a global campaign in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and is collaborating with the UN community to support their initiative to expand country-level AIDS prevention and treatment programs. In December 2003, Horst Köhler, my predecessor as the IMF's Managing Director, noted that "the IMF must do everything possible within the context of its mandate to assist the agencies that are in the front lines of the fight against HIV/AIDS."1
"In terms of the IMF's operational work, this means that IMF country teams have tried to take account of the epidemic's adverse effects in their economic policy advice and where applicable, in program design. More generally, the IMF and the World Bank have supported countries' poverty reduction strategies with financial assistance and technical advice. Debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative also has helped finance poverty-reducing expenditures in many countries, frequently including measures to fight HIV/AIDS and mitigate its impact. Moreover, the IMF encourages donors to provide grants that finance enhanced service delivery as well as commit to a predictable flow of grant resources. This is particularly vital for AIDS treatment and prevention programs, because it would be highly disruptive if these programs could not make sustained financial commitments to health workers and patients alike.
"There can be no doubt that the impact of HIV/AIDS, and the associated response of the international community, raises issues that go beyond the core areas of experience of the IMF, or for that matter of any individual international organization. Close cooperation among the relevant UN agencies as well as other international organizations will thus be critical for an effective response to the epidemic.
"As the epidemic continues—in the words of UN Secretary—General Kofi Annan, its "lethal march" —there can be no reason for complacency. The fight against HIV/AIDS and its dire consequences requires the international community's continuing best efforts to reduce the numbers of new infections, provide treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS, and to assist affected individuals and countries facing severe epidemics to mitigate the adverse social and economic impact of the disease."
1 IMF Press Release No. 03/208. The IMF has also recently published The Macroeconomics of HIV/AIDS, which gathers contributions by experts from many international organizations, including experts on the social and economic consequences of the disease, to create a comprehensive resource for public policymakers addressing the economic and fiscal consequences of HIV/AIDS.