From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Feb 04 2009 - 13:27:35 EST
Economic Downturn Threatens Global Fund for AIDS, TB, Malaria By Rosanne
*04 February 2009*
As world leaders grapple with the global financial crisis, the world's
largest source of funds to combat killer diseases is facing a crisis of its
own. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria supplies
one-quarter of all AIDS funding, two-thirds of tuberculosis funding and
three-fourths of malaria funding. A $5 billion funding gap now threatens
this institution's worldwide programs.
[image: The Global Fund is allowing developing countries to quickly scale
up treatment and prevention services aimed at stemming the spread of
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria] The Global Fund is allowing developing
countries to quickly scale up treatment and prevention services aimed at
stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malariaEvery year since
2001, leaders from the world's wealthier nations have renewed their
commitments to fund all approved disease treatment, prevention and research
programs in poor countries. According to Jeffrey Sachs, a special United
Nations advisor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University,
the Global Fund was designed to keep the promises made to the world's poor
to help them fight AIDS, TB and malaria.
Sachs says that despite the urgency of its mission, the Global Fund has been
forced by the recession-pinched budgets of its donor countries to cut back
or delay funding.
"It already cut by 10 percent the budgets for the approved plans. And it's
warned that it would have to cut by 25 percent the second half of those
plans," he says.
The current funding cycle has been postponed for several months, which he
says, "puts at risk the malaria control effort."
[image: A worker at the Olyset Net factory in Arusha, Tanzania inspects
mosquito bed nets and prepares for delivery. The Global Fund is financing 70
million bed nets to protect families from transmission of malaria] A worker
at the Olyset Net factory in Arusha, Tanzania inspects mosquito bed nets and
prepares for delivery. The Global Fund is financing 70 million bed nets to
protect families from transmission of malariaThe cutbacks are all the more
distressing to Global Fund supporters because in its relatively short life,
the organization has reported remarkable progress against killer diseases.
For example, malaria deaths are down 66 percent in Rwanda and 80 percent in
Eritrea over the past five years.
Peter Chernin is one of a number of business leaders who've supported a $100
million campaign to fight the malaria pandemic in Africa. He says the
disease has cost industry on the continent about $12 billion in lost worker
"And [with] just a fraction of that investment, we can end malaria deaths
and remove a major obstacle to economic development."
Keeping up the fight against killer diseases like malaria, TB and AIDS is
essential to the economic development of poor nations, says Sachs. And it's
just bad economic policy, he believes, to cut long-term investments in
development for near-term savings.
[image: More than two million people, like this woman from Swaziland, are
receiving antiretroviral treatment] More than two million people, like this
woman from Swaziland, are receiving antiretroviral treatment"For Africa to
be a full trading partner, one that could be picking up the slack by buying
our goods and being a full productive part of the world economy, [it]
requires that these diseases be brought under control.
"That was at least one of the many aspects, including the humanitarian and
security aspects, that led to the creation of the Global Fund in the first
Sachs argues that the United States, which currently contributes about one
third of the Global Fund's resources, could make a significant dent in the
fund's $5 billon shortfall if it so chose.
"There is no shortage of funds at the moment when in three months the rich
world has found about $3 trillion of funding for bank bailouts and in which
there have been $18 billion of Christmas bonuses for Wall Street supported
by bailout legislation."
Those monies could not "for one moment balance the lives that are at stake."
[image: The message from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is
that leaders must continue to develop a swift and coordinated policy
response to the most serious global recession since the 1930s] The message
from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is that leaders must
continue to develop a swift and coordinated policy response to the most
serious global recession since the 1930sGlobal Fund Board Chairman Rajat
Gupta agrees that the United States could do more to help the fund out of
its financial crisis. He believes that if the U.S., which has fallen behind
on its pledged commitments, were to take on more of a leadership role, other
nations would follow.
"One of the good things that has happened before is that each country or
different countries have kind of egged each other on to do more, and now it
is the United States' turn to step up and get that going."
Gupta says the Global Fund's progress in the fight against AIDS, TB and
malaria must be sustained. He says he and other health and business leaders
who attended the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland were not
asking for a bailout. They were simply calling on donor nations to make good
on their pledges, Gupta says, to improve the world's prosperity and its
health. That continued support, Gupta says, could save nearly two million
additional lives in the coming years.
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