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South Africa Fails to Sign Global Fund Deal

April 11, 2003

Richard Feachem, executive director of the UN-administered Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said Friday he is disappointed that the South African government had not yet signed a deal to accept millions of dollars to combat the pandemic.

Earlier in the week, Feachem arrived in the sub-Saharan country planning to sign a deal for the release of US$41 million -- the first installment of US$165 million to be released over five years -- to fund programs combating AIDS in the nation. But the South African government has repeatedly delayed signing the deal, citing "complex legal procedures," according to the South African Press Association.

"I have no words to express my dismay. It seems that the health ministry or whoever is responsible for this are fiddling while Rome is burning. People are dying," said Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane. South Africa's health department said in a statement that the deal "will, without fail, be signed" next month. "Program implementation will begin by the end of May." The fund reached the deal with South Africa's government more than a year ago.

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