International donors on Tuesday in London at the third and final 2005 Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria replenishment conference pledged $3.7 billion for the fund, only slightly more than half of the $7.1 billion needed for 2006 and 2007, Reuters AlertNet reports (Chambers, Reuters AlertNet, 9/6). The $3.7 billion does not include pledges expected to be made in the future by donors whose budgets have not yet been finalized for the next two years (Global Fund release, 9/6). The U.S. pledged $600 million based on President Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget request of $300 million and an additional $300 million for 2007 (Friends of the Global Fight release, 9/6). The U.S. House and Senate have proposed fiscal year 2006 Global Fund pledges of $400 million and $600 million, respectively (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/6). Of the other 28 donors, France pledged $640 million, Japan pledged $500 million and the United Kingdom pledged $200 million (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/6). The next replenishment conference is set for June 2006 (BBC News, 9/6).
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the pledges made at the conference "will go a long way towards ensuring the longer-term sustainability of the Global Fund" and "will help countries establish comprehensive programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria" (Global Fund release, 9/6). Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem said the pledges were a "solid step in the right direction, but a lot remains to be done" (BBC News, 9/6). Others said contributions pledged so far will be just enough to maintain funding for existing programs but not enough to fund new grants. "The current funding gap will have devastating effects, ... depriving poor women, men and children from the hope of accessing lifesaving prevention and treatment services of TB, malaria and HIV," Anandi Yuvaraj, a Global Fund board member, said in a written statement (Phillips, Wall Street Journal, 9/7).
U.S. Pledge Criticized
Yuvaraj said that the U.S. pledge fell short of the country's goal of providing up to one-third of the Global Fund's total budget (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/6). The bill (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- which includes funding for the Global Fund -- stipulates that the total U.S. contribution to the fund cannot exceed 33% of its total contributions (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/6). "President Bush made an important commitment to fund one-third of the fund. By breaking the promise, Bush is letting down the world's most vulnerable people," David Bryden of Global AIDS Alliance said (Reuters AlertNet, 9/6). However, U.S. Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, said critics need to remember that the U.S. is the world's largest provider of funds for global HIV/AIDS efforts. He said Bush will seek $6.5 billion for AIDS programs worldwide between fiscal years 2006 and 2007. "What we're doing is so much greater than anybody else," Tobias said (Wall Street Journal, 9/7). The U.S. could contribute $300 million more to the Global Fund later this year if Congress approves it (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/6).
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