Just two months after proposing the creation of a global "war chest" to fight HIV/AIDS, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today predicted that it would be up and running by the end of this year.
Welcoming the "strong and widespread" support for his proposed Global Aids and Health Fund voiced during the General Assembly's current special session on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Annan said he was working with all stakeholders - the Group of Eight, other donors, developing countries, foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector - to form a transitional group, which he predicted "will complete its work in time for the Fund to become operational by the end of the year."
Explaining how the Fund would function, he said it would be structured as a private-public partnership. The Board would have members from donor and recipient governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies. "We would hope to keep the Board quite small," he said.
"There will be a scientific panel that would advise us on the approaches that we adopt and the most effective way to tackle the issue, and how effectively to use the money that we have raised," he said. "There will be a small secretariat that will handle the day-to-day operations - we intend to keep it light, responsive and non-bureaucratic." Governments would make applications to the Fund, and based on the need and the quality of the applications, "the board will decide on releasing money - or not - and how to act."
He said that while the Fund would focus on AIDS, it would also serve to combat tuberculosis and malaria. "I would hope that most donors would give us flexibility, but I suspect some would target their funding, that we want this to go to AIDS, some may want their funding to go to malaria, and some may even be very specific, that their funds should be used to tackle mother-to-child transmission."
The Secretary-General pointed to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which had raised over $1 billion, as an example of a private-public partnership in action. The GAVI structure had functioned "very effectively," he said, adding that the Global AIDS and Health Fund hoped to replicate that experience.
Mr. Annan first proposed the Fund on 26 April at the African Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious, held in Abuja, Nigeria. Pledging to make the fight against the epidemic his "personal priority," he has embarked on a series of activities geared towards generating widespread support for the initiative. In addition, the Secretary-General has pledged to donate to the Global Fund the $100,000 cash award that he will be given when he receives the Philadelphia Liberty Medal next week.