Lesotho to World Bank: We need a better MIC

Words that spring to mind when you hear “middle-income country” (MIC) might be prosperity, self-sufficiency—or at least—comfort. But when considering MICs in developing parts of the world, the reality is far from those descriptors.

Video: Take one minute to learn about MICs

To shed light on this disparity and ensure the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria gets the money it needs, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) “Raise the MIC” and “Fund the Fund” campaigns continued with events in Africa. The most recent ones took place on Aug. 1 in Lesotho, a country teetering on the MIC boundary at $3.32 per day.

“It is our task to pressure the World Bank to stop such country classifications because of the detrimental effects it has on our country,” said Lesotho Council of NGOs Executive Director Seabata Motsamai. “Our combined efforts will make a difference by urging these institutions to correct these discrepancies.”

The World Bank set the international poverty line at a daily income of $1.90, yet individuals at the lowest end of its MIC category make just $2.76 per day – a difference of only $.86. Citizens in many countries are harmed by this slight bump into middle-income status, since that alone is enough to deny vital funding used to fight HIV and other diseases.

Packaged with the MIC and Fund advocacy was also information on the status of drug pricing and its harmful effects on developing countries. The effort comes on the heels of a screening in Uganda of the AHF-produced documentary “Your Money or Your Life” that shows how the pharmaceutical industry keeps the cost of many lifesaving medicines out of reach for those who need them most.

“The World Bank’s flawed country classification method gives pharmaceutical companies the power to take advantage of countries like Lesotho,” said AHF Lesotho Country Program Manager Mapaballo Mile. “Once a country’s status is middle-income, drug companies mark up prices by up to six times what a lower-income country would pay for a similar drug – this must change!”

AHF has been working to fight HIV/AIDS in Lesotho since 2013 and currently provides treatment services to 12,001 patients.