Anti-Poverty Alliance formed
Several civic groups yesterday officially launched the Anti-Poverty Alliance, aiming to push for policies to reduce poverty in the country. The alliance, which includes the Taiwan Labor Front, the Taiwan Peacetime Foundation, Amnesty International Taiwan, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Taiwan Alliance for Fair Tax Reform and The Homeless of Taiwan, is concerned particularly about the nation’s widening gap between the rich and poor as well as skyrocketing real-estate prices. The alliance plans to come up with a set of more concrete policy agendas to address the poverty issue within a year and seeks to work with sympathetic politicians.
HIV plan worries groups
Activist groups and individuals voiced concern at a public forum yesterday about a government plan to end free treatment for people infected with HIV. The soaring drug fees that come with the growing number of HIV/AIDS patients, as well as a large budget deficit, have led the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to consider halting the free treatment program that has existed since 2006. However, the CDC said treatment for HIV/AIDS patients would remain free until legislation dictates otherwise, although it did not rule out “other alternatives” to reduce expenditures. The annual budget for AIDS treatment last year was NT$1.52 billion (US$47.5 million), but with the proposed subsidy plan, the government would save only NT$30 million per year, a spokesman for Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association said. AIDS activists said the government should instead consider procuring generic drugs and encourage local pharmaceutical companies to develop non-branded products, which could reduce costs.