The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been in operation for a little more than a year and has awarded one and a half billion dollars in grants. Nevertheless, the fund is now struggling to raise money, and some are concerned it may be in jeopardy if donor countries don’t do more.
Richard Burzynski is the head of ICASO, the International Council of AIDS Services Organizations. From Toronto, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the financial status of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Mr. Burzynski says, “It’s moved very quickly in a year. It’s been able to put money out in two rounds. And in rounds one and two it agreed to fund 160 programs in 85 countries around these three diseases. So far, it’s raised $2.2 billion in pledges.”
But the head of ICASO says trouble may lie ahead. He says, “What we’re now finding is that the money has dried up.” The initial goodwill that countries have been putting toward the fund, he says, appears to be on the decline. He says the fund is about to look at round three applications and “there ain’t enough money.” Mr. Burzynski says, “It needs a minimum of $1.4 billion in round three. Well, they’re short $1.4 billion.”
This week, President Bush called on Congress to no longer delay the $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that he announced in January. Mr. Bush says, “In the three months since I announced the emergency plan, an estimated 760,000 people have died from AIDS, 1.2 million have been infected and more than 175,000 babies have been born with the virus.”
However, critics say little of that money is earmarked for the Global Fund. Mr. Burzynski says, “It just sounds like a huge amount of money.” But he says, “The proposal that is being put on the table does not even come close to being able to support the Global Fund in what it’s trying to do.” He also says it’s unclear how the money will be distributed and whether certain groups might be marginalized.
The administration’s plan includes $1 billion for the fund, “conditioned on the fund showing results.” However, the ICASO official says that money will not be given in a lump some, but rather $200 million yearly installments. He says since the United States has a 33% share of the global economy, it should be contributing 33% of the fund’s costs.
The debate over US contributions comes at a time with US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is serving as chairman of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
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