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Poorer Countries Press for Changes to AIDS Fund

May 21, 2002

Several developing countries on Wednesday urged changes to the newly launched Global Fund against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis to give states with the most patients more of a voice in its activities. In speeches to the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), some states voiced concern that the flow of money to the Fund could falter after the initial burst of donations.

The Fund was first proposed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001 and formally launched early this year with a war chest of $2 billion in cash and pledges. Mozambique's representative said, "It is a good start but the doubt is about whether it is sustainable." Speaking to the assembly of 191 member states, other countries, such as Botswana, also argued for Africa to be given more of a say in the workings of the Fund. "We recommend that Africa's representation on the board, committees, be reviewed to make sure that it is in proportion to the burden of the disease," a representative said.

Despite having one of the highest AIDS rates in the world, Botswana failed to win any financing in April, when the Fund announced its first grants for individual country projects to fight the three epidemics. Botswana said that states, particularly the poorest, did not have enough time to put together the kind of project that the Fund required. "It is critical that guidelines should be more user-friendly," its representative said.

The Fund's 18-member executive board is made up of seven representatives each from developing and developed states, two non-governmental organizations and two from corporate donors. Annan has said that more than $7 billion will be needed annually to halt the spread of AIDS, malaria, and TB, which together kill over 6 million people a year, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa.


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Excerpted from:
Reuters
05.15.02; Richard Waddington




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