World Health Organization, George Soros Unveil New TB Campaign, Will Share Donations with Global Fund For AIDS, TB and Malaria
Officials from the World Health Organization and businessman George Soros, chair of the Open Society Institute, will announce today at a meeting in Washington, D.C., a new $9.3 billion five-year plan to combat tuberculosis in the 20 countries with the highest numbers of cases, the Boston Globe reports (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 10/22). The First Stop TB Partners' Forum, jointly organized by WHO and the World Bank, is examining ways to "accelerat[e] efforts" to meet the organization's 2005 TB control goals -- detection of 70% of TB cases worldwide by 2005, and the successful treatment of 85% of those cases (WHO Web site, 10/23). Twenty-three percent of the 8.4 million people with TB worldwide received the standard six-month course of drug treatment in 1999, the latest year for which figures are available. The plan, which was finalized at the meeting, calls for developed nations to donate $900 million annually over the next five years to fund TB initiatives. The remaining funds will come from developing countries.
The Global Fund
Some of the donations to the forum's plan may be diverted to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, formerly the Global AIDS and Health Fund. The fund -- estimated to require $7 billion to $10 billion annually to fight the three diseases -- saw its name changed last month at a meeting in Belgium, where participants agreed that the fund can support "not only" [HIV] prevention but also the treatment of AIDS-related illnesses. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said he hoped the fund, which has received $1.4 billion in donations so far, will be operational by the end of the year. The fund has encountered difficulty with securing donations from many countries, although a push is underway in Congress to increase the United States' donation from $200 million to $1 billion. Tuberculosis advocates said that the forum's "blueprint" for combatting TB should "look attractive to donor countries now," because reducing TB infections would also reduce the AIDS death rates in the developing world. Tuberculosis, which thrives in persons with compromised immune systems, is responsible for between one-third and one-half of all AIDS-related deaths in Africa (Boston Globe, 10/22).