Thursday, October 07, 2010

The gap in Global Fund pledges

A couple of days ago the United States announced an increased pledge to the Global Fund on AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Several other governments have also increased their pledges, while Italy and Sweden have so far pledged no new contributions. In all $12 billion dollars have been pledged to the Global Fund, but the fund and many activists were hoping for 20 billion.

From this transcript from the Australian Broadcasting Company, reporter Sarah Hawke gives an Australian perspective on the pledge gap for the Global Fund.

SARAH HAWKE: The Director of the HIV-AIDS Project at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Bill Botell says the fund has also had longer term impacts.

BILL BOTELL: Levels of HIV infection have started to stabilise and in many countries have started to fall quite dramatically as people have got access to treatments. We've seen very encouraging progress on malaria and tuberculosis as well.

SARAH HAWKE: Bill Botell has been in New York this week for the UN discussions on the next three years of funding.

Forty countries committed $11.7 billion. The UN was hoping for $13 billion. Poverty and disease advocacy groups wanted $20 billion. Mr Botell says it appeared the Global Financial Crisis dented many commitments.

BILL BOTELL: From some of the donors yes there's been a real problem in their capacity to pay. Italy and Sweden for example have not contributed at all. I'm very glad to say though that some of the other donors, including Australia, have really stepped up to the mark and tried to fill that gap. But it was one of a very small number of countries that actually did step up to the mark.

SARAH HAWKE: What do you think it does actually mean on the ground? Are there going to be certain programs that will be looked at, or various strategies?

BILL BOTELL: That shortfall, of a couple of billion dollars means that funds to take more people on to HIV treatments, for malaria bed nets and for tuberculosis treatments won't be able to be paid for and that will translate into hundreds of thousands if not millions of people dying untimely deaths.

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