“Raise the MIC” advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and partner organizations assembled at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. on April 21 to demonstrate for changes to how the Bank defines Middle Income Countries (MICs).
The World Bank currently uses a country classification system that is based on a nation’s income level. Residents in some countries that fall in the Bank’s MIC classification earn daily incomes as low as the average price of a cup of coffee in the U.S.—$2.86. Due to this controversial calculation method, drug companies typically charge MICs up to 10 times more than the low-income countries for HIV medications. MICs are also eligible for a lower level of support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“It is irresponsible of the leadership at the World Bank to continue to disregard addressing the issue of how middle-income countries are classified,” AHF Associate Director of Community Outreach Jessica Reinhart said. “Most of the world’s poor are now residing in MICs with insufficient support from the global community to handle the realities on the ground.”
As Venezuela continues to be hit hard by steep economic downturn due to political instability, civil society has asked the Global Fund for support, but the Fund has declined the request because of Venezuela’s income classification.
The demonstration was preceded by a letter from AHF President Michael Weinstein to the World Bank, in which he questioned the Fund’s handling of the request by the Venezuelan civil society for help. He also urged the Bank to tell the Global Fund in writing to stop using country income groups to decide which countries get aid.
Reinhart, who helped organize the demonstration, added, “People are going without essential needs to keep them alive. It is shameful that the world’s leading financial institution is not demanding changes to the failing classification system. If we want communities across the globe to thrive, it is time we raise the MIC.”