By Ged Kenslea, AHF Newsroom
WASHINGTON (April 17, 2018) — As officials gather for the Spring Meeting of the World Bank Group this week in Washington, DC, social justice and HIV/AIDS advocates, including those from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), held a PROTEST outside the World Bank on Tuesday, April 17th as part of an ongoing worldwide campaign to press bank officials to change the way the World Bank defines and classifies Middle-income Countries (MICs). 20 to 30 advocates are expected to picket.
Unfortunately, usage of the bank’s country income classifications now extends well beyond the World Bank itself, and as an unintended consequence of the often-faulty Middle-income Country designations, countries with weak economies are now facing reductions in foreign aid, fewer concessionary development loans and higher prices for essential medicines—including for lifesaving antiretroviral therapies for HIV/AIDS.
The advocates are asking for the World Bank to set the lower limit of the MIC category at, or above $3,650 of GNI per capita – equivalent to about $10 per day.
“Today, the International Poverty Line is $1.90 per day, while the lower limit of the current Middle-income Country bracket is only $2.76 per day—just $0.86 per day more than the International Poverty Line and about the price of a cup of coffee. That is not Middle-income!” said Terri Ford, Chief of Global Policy & Advocacy for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “We are protesting to respectfully, but emphatically urge the World Bank to revise its income classification methodology so that it is more closely aligned with the economic realities of the people in the developing world and push Middle-income designations up to the equivalent of about $10 per day.”
“A common interpretation of ‘Middle Income’ classification is that people in this bracket should have sufficient income to satisfy the basic necessities of life such as adequate housing, food, clothing and access to health care. However, seventy-five percent of the world’s poor—and the majority of people living with HIV/AIDS—reside in countries which the World Bank currently classifies as some bracket of Middle-income,” said Joey Terrill, Director of Global Advocacy & Community Partnerships for AHF. “The fact is, many of these classifications make citizens of countries erroneously classified as Middle-income unable to access lifesaving interventions reserved for Low-income Countries such as foreign aid, concessionary development loans, and the countries and people face higher prices for essential medicines—including for HIV/AIDS treatments—whether or not that is the World Bank’s intent.”
“The mission of the World Bank is to end extreme poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity,” said John Hassell, National Director of Advocacy for AHF. “This goal cannot be accomplished by simply renaming developing countries into MICs; the underlying problems associated with global poverty will remain in place until we face up to reality and start calling things for what they are. The current World Bank income classification scale sends a global message that distorts the reality and does not accurately reflect the income levels of the majority of people living in these countries. We are once again asking The World Bank to overhaul and update its country classification system immediately.”
Earlier World Bank Middle-income Country Protests and the ‘Raise the MIC’ Campaign Advocates spearheaded a similar ‘Raise the MIC’ protest last year in conjunction with the 2017 Spring Meeting of the World Bank Group seeking the same goal: World Bank overhaul of its country income classification system to more accurately reflect the far more modest economic reality of many of those countries that are currently—and many advocates believe, erroneously—classified as Middle-income.
At the time of last year’s protest, AHF advocates also restarted an advocacy advertising campaign in Washington to bring awareness to the Middle-income Country issue. The 2017 ‘Raise the MIC’ ad campaign appeared in print, online and on two dozen DC area transit shelters.
The ‘Raise the MIC’ ad has been updated for deployment again this year to run in conjunction with the 2018 World Bank Group Spring Meeting and will appear online, as a mobile billboard circulating in Washington around WB headquarters on 18th Street and at two dozen transit shelters. The ad features an iconic image of a white paper coffee cup, but with the World Bank logo prominently placed on the side of the cup (in place of a coffee retailer’s logo). The headline simply reads, “$2.76 per day is NOT Middle-income.” To see the ad and learn more about the campaign please visit the ‘RaiseTheMIC.org’.
And in September 2015, in conjunction with a World Bank meeting also in Washington, a coalition of over 310 organizations and advocates from 30 countries launched the global ‘Raise the MIC’ campaign and online petition drive urging Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank to reconsider the way the Bank defines and classifies Middle Income Countries (MICs). Advocates were then, and remain today increasingly concerned about such faulty MIC designations by the Bank, as they adversely affect pricing and cost of a wide assortment of goods and services, including triggering far higher prices for lifesaving HIV/AIDS and other medicines in the countries. A billboard and transit shelter advocacy ad campaign accompanied that initial launch of the Raise the MIC campaign in 2015. In addition, several ‘Raise the MIC’ protests, advocacy actions and media campaigns have since taken place around the globe since then including in Peru, China, Cambodia, Kenya and Mexico.