African Leaders Call on Donor Countries To Increase Financial Commitments to Global Fund
The presidents of four African countries on Wednesday during the fund's board meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, called on donor nations to increase their financial commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Reuters reports. Presidents Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya at the fund's board meeting said that more money is needed to allow the Global Fund to finance existing and new programs, according to Reuters. However, officials from the Bush administration are proposing that the fund delay its fifth-round grants, Reuters reports (Kanina, Reuters, 11/17). U.S. health officials recently have been urging the fund's board and representatives from donor and recipient countries to vote down and delay for six to 12 months a new round of grants. U.S. officials are lobbying for the delay primarily because of what HHS estimates as a $285 million shortfall in needed funding for grants, as well as administrative, staffing and portfolio management expenses. Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem in October said that the fund faces a "critical year" in 2005 because of funding shortfalls and might not be able to award new grants. In order to carry out its work for 2005, the Global Fund needs at least $2.5 billion in funding, but so far it has secured only $1.6 billion from donors (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/17).
'From Talk to Action'
"I am convinced that working together we can roll back HIV/AIDS and malaria and we can roll back tuberculosis, but we must now shift resolutely from talk to action," Mkapa said, adding, "I earnestly appeal to all donor governments, international organizations and private donors to make a genuine effort and show practical support to Africa by raising the resources necessary to fund existing grants and launch new funding rounds" (IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, 11/18). In a statement read by UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that donor countries "must ensure that the resources approved reach the people who need them as soon as possible, and that new resources follow quickly. As a financing instrument, the fund has to demonstrate, in a decisive fashion, that it can add value to what is already there, that it can attract and disburse new resources rapidly and directly" (Agence France-Presse, 11/18). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who chairs the Global Fund board, said that although the United States was not "against" a fifth round of funding, it wants "firm financial commitments from donors," according to IRIN/Reuters AlertNet (IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, 11/18). "The U.S. contributes 35% of funding," Thompson said, adding, "If other countries were as generous as us, we would not be in the situation we are in right now." Thompson continued, "The problem is that we don't want to make a promise and not be able to deliver" (Reuters, 11/17). "This is a war we have to win collectively," Thompson added (IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, 11/18).