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Secretary-General details plans for global AIDS fund

Secretary-General details plans for global AIDS fund

WHO Chief Brundtland and Mr. Annan in Geneva
An international fund to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria will be a major tool for economic growth in the developing world, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in Geneva.

Addressing the World Health Assembly, Mr. Annan said that in order to encourage development in many countries, the runaway contagion of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases must be contained.

"The devastation wrought by HIV/AIDS is now so acute that it has itself become one of the main obstacles to development," the Secretary-General told representatives of the World Health Organization's 191 Member States participating in the Assembly.

Mr. Annan also detailed plans for the Global AIDS and Health Fund, which he first proposed at an African summit meeting last month. "The Fund would be governed by an independent Board, on which all significant stakeholders would be represented -- including, of course, the governments of developing countries," he said. "In addition, there would be a small secretariat, to do the day-to-day administration, and a strong advisory body, on which the best international experts would be asked to serve."

Mandated to set broad policies to support national strategies, the Board "would insist on transparency and accountability, so that we can be sure the money is being spent in ways that are effective, and that it is reaching the people who need it most," the Secretary-General stressed.

Muting concerns that the proposal would pull money away from current health programmes, Mr. Annan emphasized that the Fund "must be additional to existing funds and mechanisms, not just a new way of channelling money that is already earmarked for development."

Calling on governments and donors to contribute to the Fund, the Secretary-General said, "We must give hope to those infected with HIV, enabling them to plan for life instead of preparing for death, and we must give hope to humanity -- hope that the spread of the disease can indeed be halted and reversed, and that future generations will not have to live under its shadow."

So far, the United States has donated $200 million to the Fund, while Mr. Annan has personally pledged the $100,000 grant he will receive along with the Philadelphia Liberty Medal which he will be awarded later this year.