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Fight Against AIDS On Track - But Sill A Long Way To Go, Says Head Of Global Fund To Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria - 2003-11-05

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is less than two years old. But in that time it’s received government pledges and private contributions totaling four-point-seven billion dollars.

The fund is an independent, public/private partnership aimed at sharing resources and expertise to fight the three diseases. Yet, despite the amount of money that’s been pledged, sustained income for the global fund has never been easy.

Richard Feachem is executive director. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the fund’s financial status.

He says, “Up to the end of 2003, we will have received $2 billion in actual cash. And that’s enabled us to make a very fast start. And we are committed already to support 225 programs in 121 countries with that money that has already been paid to us.”

Professor Feachem says looking ahead to 2004, 2005, “we’ve got major financial needs, which are not yet fully met by any means. We have firm commitments of about $1billion for 2004, but we need a good deal more than that to maintain the momentum and to support the many high quality proposals that we’re receiving from all around the world.”

Professor Feachem also addressed concerns that the global fund might not keep pace with its usual two rounds of grants per year. He says, “There was very good news from the board meeting in Thailand, which was two weeks ago. The board (of directors) decided to fully fund round three, which is the round we’re currently processing, and to launch round four on the fastest possible time track. That means round four will be completed by the middle of next year and it does leave open the possibility of having round five in 2004 also.”

The fund’s executive director says he makes regular trips to Washington, DC to meet with Bush administration officials and members of congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is actually chairman of the fund’s board and is described as a strong supporter. Mr. Feachem says, “These meetings are incredibly useful because there is a huge level of interest in Washington, in the administration, in congress, in the ngo community.”

He says despite funding concerns, he still believes there is a strong commitment by donors to support the Global Fund, and that they realize the fund can achieve results that other programs cannot.