International HIV/AIDS, Aid Groups Call on Wealthy Countries To Contribute to Global Fund
International aid and HIV/AIDS advocacy groups on Monday called on the world's richest countries to contribute the funds needed to sustain the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as fund officials are set to meet on Wednesday in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 10/13). In its first two rounds of grants, the fund has committed $1.5 billion in funding to support 154 programs in 93 countries worldwide. The Global Fund in June said that it would need at least $700 million to fund projects that are up for approval in 2003. The $700 million is the gap between the total amount requested in project proposals set to gain approval this year and the $300 million the fund has left to spend this year. The Global Fund is expected to begin financing future grants with advance funds (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/14). The group of international nongovernmental organizations, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Oxfam, among other groups, called on rich countries -- specifically the United States, Japan and Australia -- to "contribute fairly" to the fund on the "basis of the size of their economies," the Bangkok Post reports (Bhatiasevi, Bangkok Post, 10/14). Massimo Barra of the IFRC said, "The Global Fund is facing, once again, a fiscal emergency because donor countries have refused to pay their fair share and commit to regular, annual payments" (Agence France-Presse, 10/13). Rosemarie North of the IFRC said, "There is a risk that without enough funding, the meeting in Chiang Mai won't be able to provide the necessary funding required." The groups planned to meet again on Wednesday during the Global Fund administrators meeting, the Post reports (Bangkok Post, 10/14).
Piot on Asia-Pacific
UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot on Monday said that in order to avoid a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region, leaders there should "brush aside cultural taboos" and increase HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts, Reuters reports. Piot pointed to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit, which is scheduled to be held next week in Bangkok and is expected to be attended by 21 regional leaders -- including President Bush -- as an opportunity to "press ahead with measures to control AIDS," according to Reuters. According to Piot, the governments in the region should work to combat the stigma of HIV/AIDS, adding, "The choice is clear for me. It's either act now or pay later" with an "African-style" crisis. He said, "There's no way you can win over a problem if you have to be underground about it," adding, "We need strong leadership, acting now to make sure that our children are not affected later on" (Nualkhair, Reuters, 10/13).