DC World Bank Protest: $2.86/day is Not Middle Income! Ill-fitting MIC Designations Restrict Access to Lifesaving Medications

In Advocacy, Global, News by AHF

At World Bank Protest Friday April 15th, Advocates Called for Appropriate Country Designations, Increased Foreign Aid for Poor Countries

WASHINGTON (April 13, 2016) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), in cooperation with over 300 organizations and advocates from 30 countries, launched the global ‘Raise the MIC’ campaign last year urging the World Bank to reconsider the way it classifies middle-income countries (MICs). The World Bank currently designates MICs as those with an income of at least $2.86/day, barely above the International Poverty Line of $1.25/day. Advocates are concerned that the Bank’s MIC designations—which are frequently used by other global funders and government bodies—translate into inadequate foreign aid for countries suffering from poverty, creating a lack of access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS drugs and other essential medications. AHF maintains that the bank’s MIC designation should never be used to disqualify poor countries from international aid for medications, life-saving services and reduced drug prices.

As part of the ‘Raise the MIC’ campaign, advocates hosted a DEMONSTRATION in front of the World Bank in Washington, DC on Friday, April 15.

Activists called on the World Bank to set the lower limit of the MIC category at–or above–$3,650 of Gross National Income per capita, equivalent to about $10 per day. Another participant in the protest was the Coalition for Human Rights in Development, a global coalition of social movements, civil society organizations, and grassroots groups that advocate for all development finance institutions to respect and protect human rights. Coalition representatives encouraged the World Bank to adopt policies that incorporate the human rights of women, girls, and sexual or gender minorities into its poverty reduction projects. In order to properly address issues such as violence against the LGBTI community in poor countries, the Coalition joined ‘Raise the MIC’ activists in advocating for appropriate MIC designations and adequate international aid.

“Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor reside in countries classified as middle-income, including the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS,” said John Hassell, AHF’s Regional Director in Washington, D.C. “The current MIC designation covers countries whose average citizen lives just above the poverty line and whose basic necessities are barely met. We urge the World Bank to revise its methodology so that it more closely aligns with the economic realities of people in the developing world.”

Country classifications are not only used by the World Bank, but a host of other large foreign aid organizations as well. As a result of their MIC designation, countries with weak economies face reductions in foreign aid, fewer concessionary development loans and higher prices for essential medicines—including lifesaving antiretroviral therapies for HIV/AIDS. For example, Mexico, Vietnam, and Ukraine pay as much as ten times the cost of commonly prescribed HIV drugs compared to countries classified as low-income, despite high levels of income inequality and greater disease burden. In Eswatini, nearly 1 in 3 adults is HIV-positive; however, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has stopped providing condoms to the country due to its MIC designation.

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