Bush Administration ‘Threatening To Undermine’ Global Fund, Opinion Piece Says
The Bush administration is "threatening to undermine" the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria despite the fact that the organization is the "best weapon in the war against these killer diseases," Heidi Topp Brooks and Roxanne Allen, who are volunteer citizen lobbyists with the Albuquerque, N.M., chapter of the advocacy group RESULTS, write in an Albuquerque Tribune opinion piece (Topp Brooks/Allen, Albuquerque Tribune, 10/21). Although Congress authorized $547 million for the fund for fiscal year 2004, the bill (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief stipulates that the total U.S. contribution to the fund cannot exceed 33% of total contributions to the fund. Under the requirement, other donors would have to contribute a total of $1.11 billion to the Global Fund for the United States to provide the total $547 million that Congress authorized to go to the fund. Because the fund was $243 million short of the $1.11 billion by the July 31 deadline, the United States only would be able to contribute $427 million and would roll the remaining $120 million back into the PEPFAR budget. However, Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, in August said he would extend a deadline for other countries to contribute to the Global Fund to ensure that the United States can supply the maximum amount authorized by Congress for the fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/19).
U.S. 'Must Support' Global Fund
If the United States withholds part of its total contribution to the Global Fund, some experts estimate that in the "short term" there will be 100,000 new HIV infections worldwide that could have been prevented and 25,000 HIV/AIDS patients who will not receive needed medications, Topp Brooks and Allen write. In the long term, withholding funds could "seriously undermine the work of the Global Fund, which has proven to be a successful, innovative effort," according to the authors. Although PEPFAR is "laudable," the program is "limited" because it includes 15 countries -- only one of which is in Asia -- and "largely fails to address tuberculosis," Topp Brooks and Allen say. "[H]olding out on the Global Fund sends the wrong signal to our allies around the world" because it "will discourage other donors from fulfilling their pledges and making future commitments," Topp Brooks and Allen write, concluding, "[W]ithout new resources, the fund will not be able to make any more grants, withdrawing a literal lifeline from millions of people. The United States can and must support, not sabotage, these efforts" (Albuquerque Tribune, 10/21).