On Thursday (4/25), the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced the first of its grants. The money will pay for programs over the next two years.

The fund has received more than 300 requests. In this first round of disbursements, it awarded 378 million dollars for forty programs in thirty countries. There are also eighteen proposals in twelve countries on the fast track for approval. All in all, the two-year grants total 616 million dollars.

Richard Burzynski is executive director of the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations, ICASO, a Toronto-based organization that helped formulate the fund?s principles and structure.

Mr. Burzynski says its decisions are a good first step, but he says it?s clear that the $1.9 billion dollars pledged by donors so far is not nearly enough to cover all the needs.

He acknowledges that the fund is still in its very early stages but says more must be done to speed up donations and the allocation process. He says an executive director has just been appointed, but the fund needs staff. Mr. Burzynski spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.