16 July 2003
Paris – At an international conference to highlight the progress of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, European Commission President Romano Prodi committed personally to fight for a one billion dollar contribution from Europe for 2004.
“I am the guarantor for the one billion,” President Prodi said at the closing ceremony for the International Conference to Support the Global Fund. “But you must respect that the European Union is a democracy of 15 sovereign states, and we don’t always agree on everything. Sometimes we work a little like the turtle in the fable: we may sometimes work slowly, but we can be trusted to reach our goals in the long run.”
In his closing speech, French President Jacques Chirac reaffirmed his call for Europe to contribute one billion dollars each, while calling for the United States to also allocate one billion dollars each year to the Fund.
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an outstanding instrument,” President Chirac said. “It was set up in record time. It is already operating on the ground, saving lives. Naturally we will assess its efficiency very carefully. But I am convinced that this multilateral response expresses, better than any other, the ideal of solidarity and collective action that must impel us.”
Earlier in the day, other leaders had also pronounced their support for the Global Fund.
“I believe in the Global Fund,” said Nelson Mandela in an address to the conference. “I believe that it has shown great progress, and that we must, in turn, commit more support to its success and future.”
Mr Mandela addressed 250 delegates consisting of ministers of health and foreign affairs, senior development officials, private sector executives and non-governmental organizations in a conference hosted by the French government. The conference was co-chaired by US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, the French Minister of Development and Francophonie, Pierre André Wiltzer, and the French Minister for Health, Family and Disabled Persons, Jean-François Mattei.
There was a unified call by the speakers for sufficient new money to ensure that the Global Fund can finance the rapidly increasing needs of programs in countries with heavy burdens of disease.
Some countries announced new pledges to the Global Fund. A number of other countries re-confirmed their support.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would accelerate its payment of the remaining US$ 50 million of a previous US$ 100 million commitment in order to help increase the amount of funds available for the third round of funding coming up in October. The French-based public relations group Publicis unveiled a long-term pro bono collaboration to improve awareness of the Global Fund.
“Turning the tide of AIDS, TB and malaria is a priority second to none,” said Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations in his address. “The Fund is there to fill a specific and substantial gap to scale up by providing effective funding (to fight the three diseases).”
The Global Fund is a funding mechanism for country-based programs of proven interventions against the three diseases. Initial funding is provided for two years, with continued support dependent on program performance. In its first two rounds of grant applications, the Global Fund approved grants worth US$ 1.5 billion over two years to more than 150 programs in 92 countries. This money will provide more than 500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with antiretroviral treatment, and medical and educational support for half a million children orphaned due to AIDS. It will also enable the detection and treatment of two million additional cases of tuberculosis, and deliver 20 million combination drug treatments for drug-resistant malaria.
Since March, the Global Fund has doubled its disbursement every month and is on track to provide US$ 200 million to its recipients by the end of the year. Through 2004, US$ 2.6 billion has been pledged to the Fund, with an additional US$ 2.1 billion pledged for 2005 to 2008. An additional US$ 3 billion is required to fund its next three rounds of approved grant applications.