Global health fund running out of cash

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The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a public-private partnership set up in 2001, is running out of funds, and will not be able approve its third round of grants in October unless donors honour their pledges.

Financial statements presented to the fund’s fourth board meeting last week indicate that at least US$6.3 billion is needed over the next two years to ensure continued funding. So far, however, governments and the private sector have only pledged about US$2 billion to the initiative.

During the meeting, in which the US secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, was elected as the fund’s president, awards of US$866 million were made to 60 developing countries.

This will bring the total disbursed by the fund since it was launched to US$1.5 billion. G8 leaders meeting in Genoa, Italy in July 2001 committed US$1.3 billion to the fund, with the United States making the biggest pledge of US$500 million. But so far it has only contributed half of this amount.

Thompson urged countries to expand their commitments to the fund, adding that there was a need for more resources to be invested in scientifically sound projects.

Ethiopia is the biggest beneficiary of the second tranche of grants, receiving US$93.3 million over two years for programmes to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria. Three states in India received the largest single country grant within Asia of US$38.8 million for programmes against tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.