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Tommy Thompson witnesses US$ 38 million Global Fund AIDS and TB signing with Thailand

18 May 2003

Geneva, Switzerland – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today signs grant agreements for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs in Thailand jointly worth US$ 38 million over the first two years.

The signings will be witnessed by Tommy Thompson, Chairman of the Board of the Global Fund and US Secretary of Health and Human Services, and by the Thai Minister of Public Health, Her Excellency Madame Sudarat Keyuraphan, and signed by Professor Richard Feachem, Executive Director of the Global Fund and Professor Dr Pakdee Pothisiri, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Thai Ministry of Public Health.

The grant agreements provide urgently needed funding to refuel Thailand’s much praised national AIDS program, whose remarkable successes in reducing infection rates from the early nineties onwards have been jeopardized in recent years by health budget cuts brought on by Thailand’s economic crisis, though the Thai government itself still allocated more than US$ 35 million for its HIV/AIDS program in 2002.

The model program includes a procurement system that was successfully assessed before the signing so delivery of antiretrovirals for the treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS can proceed swiftly.

The TB program addresses a marked resurgence of the disease in areas of high HIV prevalence such as in the northern part of the country where co-infections of HIV and TB have risen more than 40 per cent in past five years. In Thailand, TB is now the number one killer of people with HIV/AIDS.

In January 2003, Thailand was awarded a further US$ 2.3 million by the Global Fund for a malaria program, and US$ 20.3 million to scale up care and treatment for HIV-positive mothers, their partners and infected babies in all 76 provinces in Thailand. A further component will enhance HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections services for 500,000 migrant workers in Thailand mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. Thailand will also host the Global Fund’s sixth Board meeting in October 2003 at which the third round of recommended applications for funding will come up for approval.