Italian Red Cross Official Calls for Governments To Increase Priority on Treatment Access, Give More to Fund
Dr. Massimo Barra of the Italian Red Cross, speaking yesterday at an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies news conference, said that countries donating money to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria should "do more," the Associated Press reports. Barra, who last week was elected to the fund's board, said, "It's an international humanitarian scandal that so few people get access to drugs. We need to push governments to place a higher priority on access to treatment" (Associated Press, 2/3). Barra, who represents non-governmental organizations from developed countries on the board, said, "With all the efforts of the Global Fund, we can manage in the next years to have about half a million persons in therapy in the Third World. That is not enough." He added, "We must do all in our power to impress on the international community how shameful it is that so many people will die when affordable drugs are available on the market." Last week, the Global Fund announced that it released $866 million dollars to fund projects in about 60 countries over two years, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 2/3). The Global Fund plans to issue $600 million more in grants this year, bringing the total amount of grants this year to $1.5 billion, the Associated Press reports. But after that, the "coffers will be empty," according to fund officials (Associated Press, 2/3). Barra, who 20 years ago founded an IRC care center for HIV-positive drug users in Rome, said, "We need $5 billion for one year," adding, "The fund isn't just a problem of governments. If people who go to the supermarket give a few cents every time, that's just as important as a government donation" (Associated Press, 2/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.