U.S. Government Hopes Other Countries ‘Will Rise To HIV/AIDS Challenge With Urgency,’ Tobias Says in Letter to Editor
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief "uses a variety of means, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria," to channel money in the fight against HIV/AIDS, "but it is not limited to that vehicle alone," Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, writes in a South Florida Sun-Sentinel letter to the editor in response to an Aug. 26 Sun-Sentinel editorial. According to Tobias, the editorial "misunderstood" PEPFAR by implying that the Global Fund is the only effort the plan funds (Tobias, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/2). The editorial said that although Congress authorized $547 million for the fund in fiscal year 2004, that amount is "well short of the Bush administration's initial pledge of $15 billion over five years but more than double what the president has proposed during the current fiscal year" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 8/26). The bill (HR 1298) authorizing PEPFAR stipulates that the total U.S. contribution to the fund not exceed 33% of overall contributions. Under the requirement, other donors would have to contribute a total of $1.11 billion to the fund for the United States to provide all $547 million. Because the Global Fund was $243 million short of the $1.11 billion by the previous July 31 deadline, the United States only would be able to contribute $427 million in FY 2004 and would roll the remaining $120 million back into the PEPFAR budget. However, Tobias last week announced that he intends to hold the $120 million until Sept. 30 -- the end of the federal fiscal year -- to give other countries and donors more time to contribute the additional $243 million to the Global Fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/27).
According to Tobias, the Sun-Sentinel editorial "found fault with America's attempt to have other nations share in the support of the Global Fund, to which we are by far the largest donor nation." However, the United States views the Global Fund "as a vehicle to encourage greater investment by other donors in the fight against HIV/AIDS," Tobias says, adding that the stipulation that the U.S. contribution not exceed 33% of the fund's total contributions provides "an incentive for this." The deadline extension gives donors "a further opportunity to maximize their investment to the fund," Tobias says, concluding, "We will use the full amount to fight AIDS in any case, but we hope that others will rise to the HIV/AIDS challenge with urgency, as America has" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 9/2).
An exclusive kaisernetwork.org interview with Tobias from the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in July is available online.