Global Fund To Award Fourth Round of Grants in June 2004, Earlier Than U.S.-Backed Plan
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday at a meeting of its board in Chiang Mai, Thailand, decided that it will award its fourth round of grants in June 2004, five months earlier than a plan supported by the United States and some other countries, the Boston Globe reports (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 10/17). U.S. officials had said that the fund should delay the fourth round of grant awards until it has a more accurate accounting of its means (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16). The fund also announced that it will award $623 million to 71 programs in 50 countries in its third round of grants, the Washington Post reports. The third round of grants totaled $261 million less than the second round of grants that were awarded in January. Of the $623 million set to be awarded in the third round, $101 million will be funded using pledges expected to be fulfilled next year. Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem said that the decision to fund grants from future donations is not expected to become a regular practice, according to the Post. The decision to make only one round of grants in 2004, during which the Global Fund expects to receive $1 billion in pledges, is "an acknowledgement that the fund could outstrip its resources at the current pace," the Post reports. About $400 million of the $1 billion expected next year will likely go to programs that were awarded grants in the first round. After two years, the programs are permitted to ask for three more years' worth of funding based on their success (Brown, Washington Post, 10/17). In its first two rounds of grants, the Global Fund committed $1.5 billion in funding to support 154 programs in 93 countries worldwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16).
Mark Heywood of the South African advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign said, "We support any decision by the Global Fund not to delay further rounds. And we take that position from the standpoint of people who are seeing large numbers of members dying on a weekly basis, reflecting larger numbers of people in society generally who are dying on a weekly basis." He added, "There's no time for delay" (Boston Globe, 10/17). Sharonann Lynch of Health GAP, a not-for-profit group that works to improve access to medical care, said that the third round of grants will provide access to treatment for only 176,000 people with HIV/AIDS, according to Long Island Newsday. She added, "At this rate, we will have 240,000 people on treatment by 2005, or 8% of the (United Nations) target. It's all slowing down because the donors aren't giving" (Garrett, Long Island Newsday, 10/17).
Thompson Asks Other Nations To Donate
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who chairs the Global Fund board, called on other countries to "step up" donations to the Global Fund and asked the media to "get the word out" about the "struggling organization," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He said, "Some countries are doing a lot ... and some are doing absolutely nothing" (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/17). Thompson said that he was "impressed with how far we have come in two years," adding that he is "very proud" of the United States because it has donated approximately 37% of "all the Global Fund money" (Long Island Newsday, 10/17). The United States has donated about $622 million to the fund, according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/17). The Bush administration has requested that $200 million of the total $2 billion requested for the U.S. global AIDS initiative for fiscal year 2004 go to the Global Fund; however, AIDS advocates have called for a $1 billion U.S. donation to the fund. Although the measure (HR 1298) supporting the five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative authorizes $3 billion for the first year of the program, the Bush administration has requested that Congress appropriate $2 billion. The Senate and House are currently working on legislation that would add another $200 million to $300 million to the FY 2004 amount earmarked for the Global Fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/16).
One-Third of Total
Thompson said that under the global AIDS measure, the United States can contribute up to $1 billion to the fund only if that amount totals no more than one-third of the fund's total contributions (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/17). Therefore, in order for the total $1 billion to be appropriated, other nations must contribute more money (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/1). Thompson said that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Australia "could help and have not," according to the Chronicle. He added, "It is impossible for [the United States] to do this alone." Feachem said, "I go to capital after capital and find moderate levels of engagement," adding, "We don't have a sufficient sense of urgency." Global AIDS Alliance Director Paul Zeitz said that the one-third rule was intended to serve as a challenge to European donors, not to limit U.S. donations, according to the Chronicle. He added that the requirement was a "bureaucratic excuse that could be easily waived." Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Thursday proposed an amendment that would have appropriated the full $1 billion authorized by global AIDS initiative, the Chronicle reports. The measure would have amended a bill (S 1689) that would authorize supplemental funds for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, but the Senate voted the amendment "out of order," according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/17).
The Global Fund approved China's application for more than $32 million over two years to fight HIV/AIDS, according to an AIDS Policy Project release (AIDS Policy Project release, 10/17). Experts estimate that more than one million HIV-positive people live in China, Dai Zhicheng, vice president of the China Association for HIV/AIDS and Venereal Disease Prevention, said at a meeting of a China Red Cross AIDS prevention program on Thursday, Xinhua News Agency reports. He added that although the country had 40,560 reported HIV cases at the end of 2002, the actual number of cases is likely "much higher," and therefore HIV/AIDS prevention efforts are "very serious" (Xinhua News Agency, 10/17). However, the AIDS Policy Project in a statement expressed concerned that the country's "severe corruption problem" could limit access to the funds. Allison Dinsmore of APP said, "China's AIDS epidemic was mostly caused by provincial officials who infected their own people. These people are notoriously corrupt," adding, "How will the Global Fund keep the money out of their hands?" The APP called on the Chinese government to provide free antiretroviral therapy, treatment education and health care for people living with HIV in China; offer free education and care for orphans and children of HIV-positive parents in Henan province; and disclose "current, accurate AIDS epidemiological information" (AIDS Policy Project release, 10/17). The Global Fund also announced that more than 12 Caribbean countries, including Guyana, Haiti, Belize, Jamaica and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, will receive $44 million in grants to fight HIV/AIDS, the Associated Press reports. Fund officials said they will decide in November how much funding each country will receive (Associated Press, 10/16).