29 janvier 2002
Anti-AIDS Fund Swings Into Action
By Richard Waddington
(Reuters) - A global anti-AIDS fund, intended to spearhead
the world's war on a pandemic that has killed millions, swung
into action on Tuesday with a call to countries to suggest
projects for it to finance.
its first meeting, the board of the Geneva-based body approved
rules for distributing its funds, which currently stand at
this board meeting, the fund has become operational,'' Paul
Ehmer, the acting executive director of the Fund to
Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, told a news conference.
fund was launched in 2001 with the aim of providing a significant
chunk of the $7-$10 billion a year that United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan has said is needed to combat AIDS and the other
two deadly scourges.
diseases kill some six million people a year, with AIDS responsible
for about half that figure.
has cut life expectancy, increased infant mortality and orphaned
millions of children, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,
home to more than 28 million people with HIV, the virus that
causes AIDS. Although the amount raised so far falls well
short of Annan's goal, officials said they were pleased with
the response, noting that more help could come from international
companies once the fund proved it was effective.
is great progress. It was unimaginable even just a few years
ago,'' said France's Health Minister Bernard Kouchner, who
attended the inaugural, two-day meeting that ended on Tuesday.
$1.9 billion includes donations that will be spread over more
than one year. Funds available for use in 2002 amount currently
to $700 million, officials said.
18-member board--seven representatives each from developed
and developing countries, two from non-governmental organisations
and two representatives of private donors and corporations--set
a six-week target for proposals to be presented.
ideas will then go to a soon-to-be-appointed technical committee
for scrutiny before they are passed back to the board for
a decision. The first cash could be released by April.
Fund said projects should represent a balanced approach
to the fight against the diseases, covering prevention, treatment,
care and support for people living with HIV.
aim is that proposals should be funded rapidly, with the minimum
of red tape, but with enough safeguards to make sure funds
are used responsibly and effectively,'' it added.
Ehmer said that while all countries would be given equal consideration,
it was natural the bulk of funds would go to Africa where
suffering was greatest.
fund is so important because we have good plans but no money,''
said Francis Omaswa from the Ugandan Ministry of Health.
is one African nation to have had relative success in containing
the spread of AIDS. Armed with a strong prevention campaign,
it has reduced incidence to 6% of its 22 million population
from a peak of 18% a few years ago.
is a scandal because the technology exists to treat these
diseases that ravage our people,'' he said, noting that $10
could buy treatment for tuberculosis and just $2 would be
enough to help a person with malaria.
despite the optimism voiced by officials, some AIDS activists
warned that a lack of funding threatened to undermine the
fund's efforts just as they were beginning.
our shame, to date the international community has consistently
failed to rise to this challenge,'' the British-based Stop
AIDS Campaign said.