Global Fund Urges Governments To Sustain Funding Commitments Amid Economic Downturn
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday urged donor governments to sustain funding commitments in order to close the organization's $5 billion funding gap over the next two years, the Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reports. Advocates for the Global Fund made their appeal during a teleconference call from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (Engel, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 1/30).
Although some donors might find it "tempting to scale back" donations, this "would be exactly the wrong strategy," Peter Chernin, chair of Malaria No More, said. According to the Inter Press Service, the Global Fund's 2009 to 2010 budget was projected to be $8 billion but only $3 billion currently is available, including donor governments' existing commitments (Xanthaki, Inter Press Service, 1/29). Rajat Gupta, chair of the Global Fund, said the organization "is not immune to the environment today of the global financial crisis," adding that "we need U.S. leadership because right now I think the U.S. is lagging behind." According to AFP/Google.com, officials estimate that about half of the $5 billion shortfall could be coming from the U.S. (AFP/Google.com, 1/30). Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and adviser to the United Nations' secretary-general, said that the U.S. spends only 0.16 of 1% of its income on development assistance, which is the "lowest level" among the Global Fund's 22 donor countries. Sachs added that the U.S. has a "national responsibility" to fulfill its commitments to the Global Fund for addressing HIV, TB and malaria in developing countries (Inter Press Service, 1/29). Sachs also called on the U.S. to reclaim the "unbelievably egregious" $18 billion bonuses that some Wall Street bankers issued with recent government bailout funds and "put the money into the Global Fund immediately" ("Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 1/30).
According to Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, a decline in international commitments to address HIV, TB and malaria could create "a major, major problem in the future." Sidibe said that the global community "cannot abandon ... millions of people on treatment or break the hope of 12 million AIDS orphans." Sidibe added, "We need a fully funded Global Fund" (AFP/Google.com, 1/30). According to the Inter Press Service, HIV, TB and malaria cost Africa about $12 billion annually in lost productivity. "It's a case of lost opportunities, and it would be a huge mistake on the part of the world to write off this continent," Chernin said, adding that Africa has "enormous human capital, people willing to work hard and make major contributions to society." Gupta added that the Global Fund is "not asking for a bailout" but encouraging donor governments to "honor their previous commitments to spend this level of money for the world's health and prosperity." According to Gupta, a fully funded Global Fund could "save nearly two million additional lives in the coming years" (Inter Press Service, 1/29).
The Seattle Times "Business of Giving" blog reports that some private companies have announced contributions to the Global Fund, including a $30 million donation from Chevron and $150 million in funds from the (Product) Red campaign. In addition, Chernin on Friday launched a campaign with Exxon Mobil and Standard Charter Bank to raise $100 million from private companies, primarily for the Global Fund's malaria programs (Heim, "Business of Giving," Seattle Times, 1/29).
According to the Inter Press Service, the Global Fund provides about one-quarter of all international HIV/AIDS funding, about two-thirds of TB funding and about three-quarters of malaria funding. The organization has helped to provide antiretroviral drugs to two million people, TB drugs to 4.6 million people and 70 million insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria. In addition, officials estimate that the Global Fund has helped to prevent 2.5 million deaths from these diseases, the Inter Press Service reports (Inter Press Service, 1/29). "All is not doom and gloom," Gupta said, adding that the Global Fund has "tremendous success to celebrate in global health, although we have a long way to go" ("Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 1/30).