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World Bank President backs proposed global fund to fight AIDS

World Bank President backs proposed global fund to fight AIDS

The President of the World Bank today supported the Secretary-General's recent proposal for the establishment of a global fund to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases worldwide.

"As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and others have said, we need a war chest and a war strategy," wrote Bank President James D. Wolfensohn in an opinion piece published today in Newsday, a United States-based newspaper. "Money alone will not solve the problem, but it is a vital part of the solution."

Calling the proposed global fund "the only way to surmount the very large financing gap necessary to win the fight against AIDS," Mr. Wolfensohn stressed that it should provide financing over and above current levels of foreign aid. "To reallocate existing funds would simply be a shell game," he said.

For its part, the Bank has approved $300 million in credits for projects in seven African countries, Mr. Wolfensohn said. "Next year, the Bank plans to finance another $500 million to reach 15 more African countries," he added.

The World Bank President also advocated more vocal leadership in the fight against the deadly disease. "In too many countries, AIDS, sex, rape, violence against women, and condoms are rarely mentioned," he said.

Noting that more and more African leaders are "beginning to break the silence," Mr. Wolfensohn urged others to follow suit. "Rich countries must set an example by putting up funds and offering help to those who speak out," he emphasized.