Canada: Ottawa's Long-Awaited AIDS Funding Announcement Pledges $120 Million in New Funds
December 4, 2006
On World AIDS Day, the Canadian government announced it will contribute an additional $120 million Canadian ($105 million US) to the global fight against AIDS. The funding comprises $41 million Canadian ($36 million US) for prevention strategies, including $20 million Canadian ($17.4 million US) to fund vaccine research and $20 million Canadian ($17.4 million US) to Tanzania to support its national HIV/AIDS plan.
In partnership with Canadian agencies, Haiti's health ministry will receive $19 million Canadian ($16.6 million US) for STD prevention programs, and Montreal's McGill University will receive $2.5 million Canadian ($2.2 million US) for research to prevent parent-to-child HIV transmission in Zimbabwe.
"We want to build better health systems to ensure that as many [HIV/AIDS patients] as possible have access to the health services they need," said International Cooperation Minister Josee Verner. The $120 million Canadian adds to the $250 million Canadian ($218 million US) Canada has committed over the next two years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Friday's announcement came in the wake of criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government for its record on HIV/AIDS. Activists hoped for a major funding announcement during the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August. Harper, however, refused an invitation to speak at the conference's opening ceremonies, and Health Minister Tony Clement abruptly canceled a news conference activists had hoped would be about funding.
From Mexico on Friday, where he was attending President Felipe Calderon's inauguration, Harper praised the 25th annual Red Ribbon Campaign and World AIDS Day.
Activists say more needs to be done, including making good on a three-year-old pledge to ship inexpensive AIDS drugs to Africa. "It's a shameful, shameful fact that to this day, not a single pill has yet left Canada," said Richard Elliott of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
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