On Eve of G8 Summit, E.U. Pledges $103.5M to Global AIDS Fund, While Canada Announces $100M Donation
The European Union announced yesterday that it will contribute 120 million euros (about $103.5 million) to the Global AIDS and Health Fund, Reuters reports. The contribution will be officially announced by European Commission President Romano Prodi at the G8 summit that begins tomorrow in Genoa, Italy (Reuters, 7/18). Meanwhile, Canada announced a donation to the fund of 150 million Canadian dollars (roughly $100 million), an amount intended to be "over and above" the 270 million Canadian dollars it has already pledged independently to fight HIV/AIDS (Reuters, 7/18). Leaders of the G8 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and the United States -- are expected to discuss and formally "announce the outline of the fund" during the summit's first day tomorrow. They will be accompanied by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who launched the fund in April, Reuters reports. Annan has estimated that the fund needs between $8 billion and $10 billion to effectively tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the developing world (Reuters, 7/18). Excluding the E.U. and Canadian donations, current contributions to the fund stand at slightly less than $1 billion and include $200 million each from the United States, Britain and Japan; $127 million from France; $131 million from Germany; and $100 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, as well as smaller donations from several developing countries (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 7/18). The fund is expected to be "fully operational" by Dec. 15, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 7/19).
Not Enough, Experts Say
Writing in the July 19th issue of the journal Nature, however, an international group of AIDS experts says that the fund will need at least $9 billion over the next five to 10 years to be effective, Reuters Health reports. The group notes that current contributions are "well below what is needed" and calls on the leaders gathered at the G8 summit to "solidify their commitment" to the AIDS fund with further contributions. The call "comes from our feeling that there are moments in time when one sees hope," Yale University School of Public Health Dean Michael Merson, one of the authors, said (Norton, Reuters Health, 7/18). Peter Hale of the Paris-based Necker Research Institute, another author, added, "Donor countries are fooling themselves if they feel that [current contributions] would make a significant impact." He noted that the $7 billion to $10 billion truly needed to fight HIV/AIDS is "just 0.005%" of the total gross national product of the seven wealthiest G8 countries and is "not an unreasonable sum to spend on the 33 million people with HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asia and Central and South America" (Elgood, Reuters, 7/18).