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The Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria


17 December 2001
First Board will meet in January to finalize procedures, proposal submission and review process

BRUSSELS, 17 December - The group responsible for establishing the foundations of the new Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has completed its work and is ready to hand over its package of recommendations to a newly formed Board, which will meet for the first time in late January 2002.

The urgency of the task is clear. HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria together account for nearly 6 million deaths per year and cause immeasurable suffering and damage to families, communities and economies. The new fund represents a novel approach to international health issues with an intense emphasis on public-private partnership, the achievement of results, independent technical validation of proposals, together with efficient processes for utilizing resources.

The concept for an international funding mechanism to tackle HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria began at the Okinawa G8 Summit in July of 2000, and was adopted at the G8 Summit this year in Genoa. It was championed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, together with many national leaders, at the first UN General Assembly Special Session to focus on AIDS, in June in New York. Subsequently, a Transitional Working Group (TWG), a group of nearly 40 representatives of developing countries, donor countries, NGOs, the private sector, and the UN system, was formed in order to transform the idea into reality.

"The Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was created in response to the growing realization that fighting these scourges requires significant new money", said Dr Chrispus Kiyonga, former Minister of Health of Uganda and Chairman of the TWG. "But the Fund is not just about money, it is about partnership – a new kind of partnership that includes NGOs, the private sector, governments and other agencies – working together in a new way to achieve lasting results."

Over the past few months, the TWG has engaged in negotiations to design basic guidelines concerning the Fund's operations, such as legal status, management structure, financial systems and general eligibility criteria. At its meeting on 28-29 January, the Board will review the TWG's recommendations, make refinements as needed, and adopt a framework document. After this has been accomplished, the Board will issue a call for proposals.

The Board will include an equal number of donor and developing country governments, with seven seats each. And, in an exceptional move, the Board will also include two NGO and two private sector donor seats. The term of the Board members will be two years, with each constituency responsible for selecting its representatives; selections will be made in time for the January Board meeting. WHO and UNAIDS, representing the many UN agencies involved in the fight against these diseases, and the World Bank, as the Fund's trustee, will have non-voting seats on the Board. In addition, the Board will include a person living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria, in a non-voting seat.

Approximately $1.6 billion has been committed to the Fund thus far from industrialized and developing country governments, corporations, foundations, and private individual contributions. A number of these commitments are multiyear, giving the Fund approximately $700 million to disburse in 2002.

"While far more resources are needed to adequately address HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria, current pledges to the Fund will allow the Board to begin funding programs and demonstrate results. Once the Fund has shown that it is working as planned, it is hoped that current donors will continue and increase their commitments, and that new donors will come to the table", said Dr Kiyonga.

The TWG had the mandate to provide broad parameters for funding. The Board at its first meeting in January will take final decisions about eligibility, proposal review criteria, and the resources available for different types of programs. The TWG will recommend that the Fund focus highest priority on proposals from countries and regions with the greatest need, based on high disease burden and lack of financial resources. These include sub-Saharan Africa, currently the region most affected, as well as some countries within the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe. The TWG will also recommend consideration of proposals from countries and regions with a high potential for risk.

Broad partnerships at the country level will be an essential component of the process. Governments, NGOs and private sector organizations, with the assistance of bilateral and UN agencies involved in fighting the three diseases, will work together to develop proposals, implement programs, and monitor results.

An independent technical review panel will review proposals. This impartial team of experts will make recommendations to the Board, and guarantee the integrity and consistency of the proposal review process. The Board at its first meeting will consider candidates for the panel.

The Fund will be created as an independent legal entity to ensure autonomy and flexibility. Its finances will be entrusted to the World Bank, as Trustee. The Trustee will have primary responsibility for financial accountability, including collection, investment and management of funds, disbursement of funds to countries and programs, and financial reporting to stakeholders.

A small independent Secretariat, to be located in Geneva, will manage the Fund's flow of work and support the Board. The process to recruit the executive head of the Secretariat is beginning; an interim Secretariat will support the Board in the meantime.

"The planning process for the Fund is unprecedented. Setting up the first multibillion dollar health fund, which includes major involvement of governments but operates like a private foundation, has challenged people to think in brand new ways about health and development funding", said Dr Kiyonga. "But the urgent need to reduce the suffering and negative impact caused by these devastating diseases has provided a constant reminder that we must proceed without delay. The commitment, dedication, and spirit of collaboration demonstrated by the group has been truly remarkable."

The process has involved three meetings of the TWG, regional consultation meetings in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, and thematic consultations among NGOs/civil society, the private sector and academia. The process has been facilitated by a Technical Support Secretariat located in Brussels.

Read the Press Release in Portuguese 31 Ko.


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