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Global Health Fund Announces New Aid for 2005


Board members of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say the foundation will be offering a round of funding for next year.

Delegates attending the Global Fund's two-day meeting in Arusha, Tanzania clapped and cheered when board members said there would be a round of funding next year to support programs dealing with the three diseases worldwide.

When the meeting began, it was uncertain whether or not the foundation would offer a fifth round of funding, largely because the number of pledges made to date falls short of what is needed.

During the three-hour debate, some board members argued that the foundation should hold off making the announcement until pledges from donor countries near the target and there is enough funding to honor existing commitments.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who is chairing the board meeting, told reporters Wednesday the United States held such a position.

Others said donors would rise to the challenge and be pressured to pay up if a new round is announced.

Global Fund spokesman Jon Liden describes how the decision was reached.

"It was a long and very emotional debate, but in the end, Secretary Thompson, who is the chair of the Global Fund board got everybody together and brokered a deal which ensured that we have a round of funding in 2005 while, at the same time, ensuring that we have enough financial resources to actually fund the programs that we would approve," he said.

Many activists and non-government agencies were worried that if the fifth round of funding was not announced at this week's board meeting, no programs would receive money in 2005 because of the long process between the time a funding round is announced and when grants are actually dispersed.

Mr. Liden said the Global Fund needs $2.5 billion next year to cover both existing programs and new grants. To date, donor countries have pledged $900 million for next year.

He said priorities for the Global Fund include AIDS treatment, new and effective malaria medicines and nets, and stopping the more than two million deaths from tuberculosis each year.

Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund has dispersed $3 billion in 128 countries. About 60 percent of that funding has gone to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa. Almost every African country has been a recipient.

The United Nations estimates that about 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

According to USAID, 90 percent of the one million deaths in the world from malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that malaria is responsible for at least 20 percent of all deaths among children under age five on the continent.