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International News

Funds Tighten for Fighting AIDS and Malaria Worldwide

February 2, 2009

Health leaders are worried that the global financial crisis could hurt the programs supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and they want the United States to provide more money.

Health experts say many developing nations are coming up with effective disease-fighting programs. Ironically, however, these are increasing demands for Global Fund dollars. "It's a different kind of crisis," said Rajat Gupta, the fund's chairperson. "It's the result of a very successful investment strategy." The gap between pledged funds and eligible programs is now about $5 billion, he said.

At present, the United States is about $1 billion behind in honoring Global Fund pledges made by the Bush administration and has yet to approve its 2009 contribution to the fund. If just $2 billion of the 2009 US pledge of $2.7 billion were actually contributed, "I'd be very happy," Gupta said.

"We're talking about a few billion dollars and millions of lives," said Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and a special advisor on development and health to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

There is a particular danger that the economic downturn could reverse hard-won gains in the fight against the diseases, according to experts. Low-cost initiatives like distributing anti-mosquito bed nets have helped cut malaria cases by two-thirds in Rwanda and by 80 percent in Eritrea, said Peter Chernin, president of News Corp. and chairperson of Malaria No More.

Chernin noted that the United States deserves credit for the Bush administration's dramatic increase in global health funding, but this does not alter the fact that the nation is falling further behind in its contribution to the Global Fund. The United States provides about one-third of the fund's total assets.

Back to other news for February 2009

Adapted from:
Christian Science Monitor (Boston)
02.02.2009; Howard LaFranchi

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on the Global AIDS Fund