A group of private and public organizations announced Thursday that it will commit $600 million to the international fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The World Health Organization says AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria cause nearly six-million deaths every year but less than five percent of patients have access to treatment. The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria aims to stem that tide with a new, multi-million dollar pledge.
Mark Stirling, the Director of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS unit, said that humanitarian groups have been waiting for this kind of financial support for a very long time. "We know how to prevent HIV, we know we know what can be done to provide care and support for people living with HIV, we know what can be done to care for orphans and other people affected with HIV. The problem for many, many countries has been the inadequacy of resources," he said. "They've got national plans in place, but huge funding gaps. This fund in part addresses that constraint of resources."
The Global Fund, which is an independent partnership of public and private organizations, has awarded $616 million to 58 programs in 33 countries over two years. Fifty two-percent of the funding will go to African nations. The rest will be distributed among Western Pacific nations, the Americas, Central and Southeast Asia. One percent of the funding will go to Eastern Europe.
Sixty-percent of the money goes to projects devoted exclusively to HIV/AIDS.
Funding after this initial two-year allotment will be approved based on performance. But Mr. Stirling said that two years will simply not be enough. "The important thing now is to make sure that these funds work, and work quickly, in those countries which are affected, and equally importantly, that this kind of commitment is increased and sustained over the many years to come, which will be required for an effective response. This is just the beginning of a much larger initiative," he said.
Mr. Stirling said that the key to sustaining the fight against these diseases will be strong leadership on the international and local levels. He said governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector must keep the subject on "the front burner."
If the first two years of the Global Fund's initiative prove successful, total funding over five years could add up to $1.6 billion.