29 January 2002
against HIV/AIDS, malaria
and TB declared operational
GENEVA,The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS and two other killer diseases on Tuesday
launched a call for funding projects in countries hit hard
by the illnesses, on its first official day in operation.
At the end of a two-day meeting in Geneva, the newly-appointed
board of the independent fund revealed that it had thus far
received 1.9 billion dollars in pledges, of which 700,000
million dollars has been earmarked to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria
and tuberculosis in 2002.
The seven industrialised countries,
seven developing and transition countries, non-governmental
organisations, private foundations
and corporations on the board said they sought a first round
of projects that needed financial support.
"Today we are taking a major step forward, moving rapidly
to get these resources to people that need them most,"
said Paul Ehmer, head of the Global Fund's secretariat. "One of the important messages we want
to get out today is that the fund, with the completion of
this board meeting, I think we can declare, is operational,"
Ehmer said the Global Fund was initially looking for specific local programmes to
fight the diseases, preferably combining government and community
efforts that had been planned but lacked cash to be carried
The proposals, which should be submitted by March 20, will
be reviewed and approved at the next board meeting in April.
"It's great progress, it will
be clearer once the first projects will be chosen in April
we hope -- this was unimaginable a few years ago," French
Health Minister Bernard Kouchner
"This may be the first time that globalisation has become a positive concept," he added.
The independent Fund was launched by UN Secretary General
in May 2001 and received the high-profile backing of a 100-million-dollar
donation from Microsoft chief Bill Gates's foundation.
It is meant to be a public-private partnership aimed at stimulating
the vast resources needed to fight the diseases.
Some six million deaths every year result from AIDS, TB or
malaria, while at least 348 million people suffer from the
diseases, mainly in developing countries, according to fund organisers.
Annan has said the fund would need
about 10 billion dollars a year.
Of the 1.9 billion dollars pledged so far, most has been promised
by governments and the Gates Foundation, while private companies
have come up with just over one million dollars.
"We haven't even seen the potential of the private sector,"
Ehmer said there had been "a
lot of discussion" during the meeting about
private sector representation and funding.
There had been warnings that private companies would only
start to come through with pledges once they saw the Global Fund was up and running and having an impact, Ehmer added.
Private corporations are represented on the board by mining
conglomerate Anglo American.
"As we speak now we have approximately 1.9 billion in
pledges, not in cash in the banks, and this is far less than
the anticipation of especially the communities affected,"
Milly Katana, who represents developing country advocacy groups on the fund's
board, told journalists.
The board also set out priorities for the fund during the
"There is a general agreement that there will be more
funding available for HIV/AIDS than for the other conditions,"
He added that there was also backing for a balanced approach
to both AIDS prevention and treatment.
"What the fund is recognising
is that both of these kinds of programmes
are going to be necessary and countries will come forward
with proposals that will reflect that kind of a balance,"
"The arrival of this global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria has come late, but we
welcome it, and it has brought tremendous opportunities for
turning round this very scandalous and shameful situation for mankind in the
21st century," said Ugandan health ministry official