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Global Health Fund on Verge of Bankruptcy


The International Red Cross and private aid groups are appealing to leaders of the world's richest nations to live up to their promises of support for millions of victims of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The groups say a multi-billion-dollar Global Fund, set up to help poor countries combat these diseases, is practically bankrupt. The groups accuse the world's wealthiest nations of breaking their promises. They say six million people die each year from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and many of those deaths could be avoided if the wealthy nations provided the money they have promised to combat these infectious diseases.

Two years ago, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan launched the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at the G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy.

A member of the Global Fund Board, Helene Rossert, says, thanks to initial pledges, the fund has been able to provide support for 153 programs in 92 countries.

She says, during the past two years, grants from the fund have provided treatment to two million people with tuberculosis, anti-malaria protection to 30 million African families and medical treatment for 500,000 people living with AIDS. But, Dr. Rossert says these and other programs now are facing a financial crisis.

"There is no more fund in the fund. Round Three has been launched in March 2003," she said. "Projects have been arriving at the Global Fund, and we do not know how to fund it. I mean, this is totally outrageous, ridiculous, whatever. And, we have to find funding."

Dr. Rossert says the Global Fund needs $1.4 billion by October to finance the third round of Global Fund grant agreements. She says the G-8 must use its annual summit next month to commit itself to making the fund solvent.

Paul Davis is director of a U.S.-based private group called, Health Gap. He says he was part of a delegation that recently visited a Global Fund grant recipient in Haiti. He says the group already has begun treating almost 500 AIDS sufferers.

"They have plans to move to thousands with their Global Fund money. They have plans to move from two clinics to 26 clinics in Haiti, putting thousands of people on treatment," he said. "If the Global Fund does not receive money from the donors, not only will the new applications from Round Three not be funded, they will sit on the shelf, and people will continue to die. But, the people who have started treatment in Haiti will lose their treatment."

The health activists say the Global Fund is currently the best hope for financing treatment.

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