As the U-S Senate debates a new funding bill to fight HIV/AIDS, the United States and other donors are being urged to earmark more money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
A campaign called “Fund the Fund” is underway to lobby donor nations to pledge more money to the Global Fund. The campaign is a coalition of groups and individuals who say the fund is running out of cash. It estimates the fund is facing a budget shortfall of one-point-six billion dollars. The money’s needed to meet a third round of grants in October.
While praising the scope of President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – a five year, fifteen billion dollar initiative – activists say little of that would go to the Global Fund.
Joanne Carter is a member of the Fund the Fund campaign. She says, "What’s really remarkable is in response in the US is that Congress, in a sense, overrode the president in calling for up to a billion dollars for the Global Fund in 2004. And right now the United States Senate is in a series of very intense negotiations for legislation, which again, at minimum, would be calling for a billion dollars for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Again despite efforts by the senate leadership and the White House to do less than that. The senate will be calling for at least a billion dollars for the Global Fund again with a two to one match from other countries. So a challenge grant."
The Fund the Fund campaign will continue its lobbying at the summit of the world’s rich nations in June - and at a donors meeting in Paris in July.
Among those calling for more donor payments to the fund is Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.
He says, "It’s not merely the United States that has been castigated for an inadequate contribution. But it’s fair to say that no donor nation in the western world has made an adequate contribution. And in the G-7, the levels of contributions collectively are generally lamentable."
Mr. Lewis warns the Global Fund’s cash crunch should not be underestimated.
He says, "There’s an escalating crisis around the Global Fund. This need for roughly one and a half billion this year – and eight billion or more over the next couple of years – is a desperate need. And we don’t have it. And at the moment it is not in sight. And frankly, it’s disastrous if the world doesn’t raise the money for the Global fund. Indeed, even the third round of proposals, which is due in the fall of this year, would be thrown into jeopardy if we don not somehow raise the additional money over the next very few months."
The Bush Administration says the United States has spent more money on HIV/AIDS than any other country. That includes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Global Fund. However, the president’s plan would give the administration greater control over how AIDS money is spent, rather than leave the decisions to the Global Fund.