The two-day replenishment meeting of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the second of three meetings aimed at raising an additional $8.5 billion needed to support the programs the fund is financing worldwide.

Speaking before the opening of the meeting, fund's Executive Director Richard Feachem said that since its establishment in 2001 at the G8 summit in Genoa, the Global Fund has grown rapidly. He said it has successfully raised nearly $7.5 billion and is supporting 300 programs in 130 countries.

"The Global Fund is an innovative financing instrument," he said. "It was created to raise large amounts of money to finance the counterattack against AIDS, TB and malaria and it does that job in a way that is different from traditional bilateral or multi-lateral development financing institutes."

Money for local programs is won competitively following an application to the Global Fund. Mr. Feachem said the distribution of investment is entirely driven by the quality of the demand and the money follows the best programs and the best ideas. He says the results have been encouraging.

"The distribution of the money seems to be roughly optimal, 60-percent to Africa, 40-percent to the rest of the world, that is about right," stated Mr. Feachem. "Sixty-percent to HIV/AIDS, 40-percent to TB and malaria, that is about right. Fifty-percent to public programs, 50-percent to private programs, that is about right."

Mr. Feachem added that most of the fund's programs are exceeding the targets that were originally negotiated. He said Africa is a major target, but other areas of the world are not forgotten, in particular three countries that are critical to prevent a catastrophe from spreading in Asia and Eastern Europe.

"Africa is the place where HIV/AIDS is of course the worst and of course malaria is the worst also in Africa. Because of that over 60-percent of Global Fund finance flows to Africa and Africa is undoubtedly the major focus," he said. "However let us not forget that the time bombs for the global pandemic of HIV/AIDS are Russia, China and India."

Europe is the leading supporter of the Global Fund and is responsible for 55-percent of the Global Fund's income. President Jacques Chirac last week announced he was doubling the French contribution to the Global Fund, bringing it to $365-million per year in 2007 and beyond.

With the G8 summit in Gleneagles coming up in July, further announcements of contributions from the world's major industrialized nations are expected. The Global Fund's third replenishment meeting will be held in London September 5-6, 2005 and chaired by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.