Development Banks Not Fulfilling Pledges To Support HIV/AIDS Projects In Developing Countries

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Multilateral development banks are not fulfilling their commitments tosupport initiatives involving reproductive and sexual health indeveloping countries, according to a new study released by Gender Action, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that monitors the banks' policies on women and gender equality, Inter Press Servicereports. The 90-page report examines the quantity and quality of allspending for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS projects from 2003 to2006 by the World Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. The report also looks at the effect of the International Monetary Fund's fiscal and monetary policies.

Accordingto the report, there was a "profound decline" in World Bank spending onreproductive health and HIV/AIDS projects from $2.7 billion in 2003 to$1.5 billion in 2006. The World Bank approved a total of $7.5 billionfor such projects during the four-year period. World Bank officialscould not be reached for comment, according to Inter Press Service.

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Thereport also said that the regional development banks' programs focusalmost solely on demographic issues and maternal health rather than onreproductive and sexual health and rights; do not include gender rightscomponents; and fail to describe actionable solutions, according to Inter Press Service."Compounding [the] lack of gender sensitivity in MDB projects is theirunsustainability caused by endemic MDB project shortcomings, includingshort-term project duration and lack of funding for recurrentexpenditures such as salaries for doctors and nurses," the report said.

According to the report, the Tunisia-based African DevelopmentBank from 2003 to 2006 gave $108 million for reproductive healthprojects and $44 million for HIV/AIDS projects and related components.The Manila, Philippines-based Asian Development Bank during the sameperiod gave $47.4 million for reproductive health and HIV/AIDSprojects, with most of the funds spent on HIV/AIDS grants. TheWashington, D.C.-based Inter-American Development Bank, which lends toLatin nations, gave $3 million in loans and grants for reproductivehealth and HIV/AIDS during the time period, according to the report.

Thereport also said IMF loan packages and economic policies force mostborrowing governments to restrict public sector wages and cut thenumber of doctors and nurses as part of its effort to reduce inflationand public spending, the Inter Press Service reports."For these reasons, MDB project descriptions that promise tosustainability increase access to reproductive health, HIV/AIDS andother services are misleading," the report concluded (Mekay, Inter Press Service, 7/9).
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