Annan to Choose Chair to Organize Global AIDS Fund Implementation
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will select from a "short list of candidates from the developing world" a leader to chair the transitional working group charged with deciding how to implement and operate the Global AIDS and Health Fund, the Wall Street Journal reports. The fund was formally launched last week at the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, though the Journal reports the announcement was "largely a public relations effort" since Annan has been raising money for the fund since he created it in April. Short-list candidates for working-group chair reportedly include Ugandan Health Minister Crispus Kiyonga, South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Mali's Health Minister Traore Fatoumata Nafo. Other reported candidates are Lin See-Yan, former deputy governor of the Malaysian central bank, and Tommy Koh, who is leading Singapore's free-trade negotiations with the United States. The chair will be tasked with developing operational strategy for the fund, including how it will pay for AIDS drugs and other medical supplies. Currently, European and U.S. officials are in disagreement over how to use fund dollars to purchase drugs, with the European Union in favor of using a tiered pricing system to buy less-costly generic versions of patented drugs and the Bush administration "wary of any approach that might lead to the infringement of western patents." The chair will need the "negotiating skills to get us on one page by Jan. 1," the fund's expected operational date, a senior U.S. official said. Negotiators have already agreed that a panel of experts will review each proposed AIDS project and decide funding appropriation. Once the fund is up and running, the working-group chair will be replaced by the person who will run the fund. Governments and private donors have thus far pledged $1.3 billion for the fund, which is aimed at fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, but Annan hopes to "ultimately generate an extra $7 billion to $10 billion in annual spending on the infectious diseases that ravage ... developing nations" (Phillips/Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, 7/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.