Bangkok Post
3 May 2002


By Anjira Assavanonda

Thailand will receive US$133 million (5.72 billion baht) from the Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) to run a five-year programme for prevention and treatment of the deadly diseases.

The money has been approved for Thailand's projects planned for 2002-2006, said Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Part of the money would fund anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/Aids patients, she said. The fund was approved at the second meeting of its management board in New York during April 22-24, she added.

The fund was initiated in 2000 at the meeting of G8 countries in Okinawa, Japan, in order to provide financial support for prevention, control and treatment of HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria which have been major causes of death among the poor in developing countries.

Spearheaded by United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, the fund was established in January with contributions amounting to more than US$ 1.9 billion from rich countries.

"Given the country's success in controlling the three diseases, Thailand has been invited to be a co-founder of the fund with support from other Southeast Asian countries," Ms Sudarat said.

Suvit Wibulpolprasert, a deputy permanent secretary for health, has been made Thailand's representative to the 18-member fund management board, she added.

A new body, called the Country Co-ordinated Mechanism (CCM), has been set up to process Thailand's projects.

Chaired by Deputy Health Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, it comprises officials from international organisations, and the public and private sectors.

Dr Surapong said the GFATM board has already approved funding for the first two years of Thailand's five-year projects.

The GFATM board would assesss the outcome of the projects in the first two years before granting the rest of the money, he added.

In the first two years, Thailand would receive US$31 million for Aids, $7 million for tuberculosis, and $5 million for malaria, or a total of 1,850 million baht," he said.

Thailand would also work with Burma to propose a bilateral project to control the spread of the three diseases along common border areas, according to Dr Surapong.

Wallop Thainua, head of the Communicable Diseases Control Department, said the projects would emphasise prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, anti-retroviral treatment for Aids patients, special treatment for tuberculosis patients, and prevention of resistance to malaria drugs.

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