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New Global Fund Head Vows to Get More Money Flowing to Effective Programs

09 July 2002

INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE -- Characterizing his organization as a modern device marking a new era of global action, Dr. Richard Feachem, incoming Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, vowed today that his main priority will be to rapidly increase the flow of donor resources to the many public and non-governmental health services that are poised to deliver dramatic results measured in lives saved, disease strengthened.

"I personally vow to make the Global Fund a modern, effective tool for delivering maximum impact with funds provided by donors, scaling up financial support to all channels - both public and private - that are successful in addressing this crisis," Feachem told delegates at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, one week prior to assuming his role as the Global Fund's first Executive Director. "To succeed, the amount of money spent must be dramatically increased. And for funding to increase, we must continue to demonstrate that we can quickly and strategically get these funds to programs that are making an impact."

In a statement issued late Monday, the Global Fund announced that its initial multiyear grants will make it possible for six times as many people in Africa to receive anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment over the next five years. This catalytic start signals the substantial contributions to both prevention and treatment programmes that the Global Fund will make in future rounds as additional donor resources are provided. Moreover, it demonstrates that countries are ready for much greater funding.

Feachem anticipated that a far greater number of high-quality proposals will be submitted during the second round, just announced on 2 July. During the first round, more than US$ 5 billion was requested from the Global Fund for a five-year period through over 300 proposals. 58 separate proposals from 40 countries totaling US$ 1.6 billion over five years were approved. US$ 616 million was committed for disbursement over the next two years. The rapid first round was completed in less than three months, from the call for proposals to the awarding of grants. Twice the time is being provided for the preparation and review of proposals during the second round.

"Many billions more will be required quickly to implement the high-quality proposals that we anticipate receiving during the next twelve months," said Feachem. "Without rapid and substantial increases in financial support for the Global Fund, it will not be possible to support the most worthy of these plans."

According to Feachem, it is not enough for leaders of governments and civil society to only set targets and establish a more coordinated funding mechanism, they must also "match their promises with pounds, declarations with dollars, and commitments with cash."

"I intend to ensure that the Global Fund is the innovative, transparent, results-oriented mechanism that world governments, civil society and leaders such Kofi Annan and Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland called for," said Feachem. "But for us to succeed, all partners must fulfill their commitments and live up to their promises."

Feachem reminded delegates that G8 and G77 leaders pledged two years ago to cut TB and malaria deaths in half and reduce HIV infections among young people by 25% by the year 2010. That same year, donors and the governments of countries most severely affected by tuberculosis agreed to a plan to triple the number of people cured by the effective DOTS treatment strategy. Also that year, African heads pledged to drop taxes and tariffs on imported mosquito nets that are essential for controlling malaria. Yet, according to Feachem, much remains to be done in meeting these pledges.

"Each of us has an important role to play; whether it is in providing quality health services, mobilizing and informing communities, offering financial assistance, developing new tools, protecting the rights of and reducing discrimination against people living with disease, or ensuring the costs of medicines and health products are affordable for all," said Feachem. "Each of us must work together and fulfill our commitments, and then, do even more."

Feachem emphasized that the most important role for the Global Fund is to ensure that financial support increases and is translated into results. In achieving this main objective, Feachem promised that Global Fund operations would be distinguished by five basic values:

First, balancing idealism with pragmatism. The Global Fund's response will be balanced geographically and between diseases, based on the burden of disease, greatest vulnerability and financial need. There will also be a balanced use of both treatment and prevention interventions.

Second, ensuring that the public sector and private sector work side by side, enlisting the help of all segments of society to succeed in the challenge of controlling HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

Third, promoting dynamic and innovative thinking, such as is being developed through the novel Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) process which is emerging as an alternative to the traditional means of directing donor resources to governments in isolation of the involvement of civil society, NGOs, faith-based organizations and the private sector. According to Feachem, this process is still far from perfect, but the Global Fund will embrace risk and learn from mistakes in developing new and better ways of providing financial support most rapidly to those who can use it most effectively.

Fourth, practicing transparency and accountability, increasingly monitoring projects that have received grants, and ensuring that their progress toward achieving agreed-upon goals and intermediary targets is transparent to all interested parties. Feachem acknowledged that new and more accurate systems for dispersing and tracking the use of funds cannot be put in place overnight, but stated that he will be calling upon a wide array of institutions and experts to help meet this challenge.

Fifth, achieving results to improve health in a measurable way. Feachem restated his commitment to fulfill the original purpose of the Global Fund to achieve concrete and measurable results in improving the health of those in greatest need, changing lives in a real way.

"Never before has the world been so poised to dramatically prevent sickness and death from AIDS, TB and malaria," said Feachem. "It is time to go to scale with effective tools and strategies to fight the most deadly diseases in low-income countries. Even if each of us just begins by fulfilling our own existing promises and commitments, hundreds of millions of people living in poverty will be spared suffering and tragedy."

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is an independent, public-private partnership working to attract, manage and disburse new resources to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and to rapidly disburse these funds to effective prevention and treatment programmes in countries with greatest need.

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