Credit Suisse Subsidiary Announces First Corporate Donation to Global AIDS Fund
Winterthur Insurance, a subsidiary of the world's fourth-largest bank, Credit Suisse, will today announce a $1 million donation to the proposed Global AIDS and Health Fund, the Washington Times reports. The contribution is the first corporate donation to the fund, which was proposed in April by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and aims to amass $7 billion to $10 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The donation will be the "first of several contributions" Credit Suisse plans to make, according to a company spokesperson. Future donations will come in the form of cash, technical assistance and education for the bank's corporate employees and "surrounding communities," the spokesperson added. Kraig Klaudt, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, called the donation "hugely important," adding that the G8 has called for the world's 1,000 leading corporations to donate $1 million each (Barber, Washington Times, 6/8).
Donations to the fund so far have been "slow to materialize," the Washington Post reports. Last month, the United States announced a $200 million donation for this year, and France has pledged $127 million over the next three years. Great Britain has also promised an "unspecified amount." But no "major" foundation has yet made a donation, and American corporate response has been absent despite Annan's "personal appeal" to business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week. Despite the slow start, U.N. officials "insist" they are "not discouraged" and expect more donations to come after the U.N. General Assembly's special session on HIV/AIDS later this month and after next month's G8 meeting in Italy. "I think that investors, quite understandably, are saying, 'Let's see a little more what the shape of this is before we decide.' I'm pretty certain that it's going to happen, and it's going to be a serious thing," WHO Executive Director David Nabarro said. A Geneva meeting earlier this week -- which involved over 200 representatives from more than 50 countries, nongovernmental organizations and private foundations with an interest in the fund -- represented the "most substantive move toward determining the shape of the fund," the Post reports. The group recommended that the fund be "operational" by year's end, but did not agree on how it would be administered (DeYoung, Washington Post, 6/8).
Direction of the Fund
An ongoing debate over what direction the fund will take -- whether it will concentrate on prevention, treatment or a combination of both -- became even more "confus[ed]" yesterday after Andrew Natsios, the newly appointed director of USAID, said in an interview with the Boston Globe that the fund should be "devoted almost solely to prevention," rather than treatment. Many Africans "don't know what Western time is. You have to take these (AIDS) drugs a certain number of hours a day, or they don't work. Many people in Africa have never seen a clock or a watch their entire lives," he said. The lack of medical infrastructure and electricity would further complicate treatment efforts, he said, adding that any money spent on treatment should go toward preventing vertical transmission and the purchase of anti-malarial and anti-TB drugs. His comments "rankled" activists, who have grown "increasingly fearful that western governments are balking on plans" to help pay for antiretroviral drugs. They also called the comments "racist." In response, a spokesperson for Natsios said the director would "issue a statement clarifying his position this morning," while Dr. Paul De Lay, USAID's chief AIDS expert, "backpedalled further" in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, saying, "Care is a critical component of prevention. You can't do HIV prevention and counseling unless you have something to offer for people who are HIV positive" (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8). To view a kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of an International Relations Committee hearing on USAID's efforts to fight AIDS, where Natsios spoke, click here.