Early creation of AIDS fund backed at UN session's roundtable

Early creation of AIDS fund backed at UN session's roundtable

A proposed Global Fund for AIDS and Health would provide an efficient and cost-effective way of channelling resources in the fight against the epidemic, according to the chairman of a roundtable discussion held as part of the United Nations special session on fighting the pandemic.

Summing up the discussions during the roundtable on "International Funding and Cooperation," the Chairman, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, said the Fund - originally proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier this year - could increase overall resources for HIV/AIDS by attracting more contributions from public and private donors alike.

"It could also achieve important economies of scale through bulk purchasing and cross-country actions," he said. "It could reduce the time donors spend searching for worthy activities, and affected countries spend looking for interested donors."

On financing in general, he said that roundtable participants had agreed on the need for developing countries to make sure that they were contributing as much as they could from their own sources. At the same time, traditional development partners should be forthcoming, not only with official direct assistance but also in the form of debt relief that would strengthen the hand of severely affected countries.

"We also recognized that there was a need for expanding the alliances that encompasses new partners, particularly the companies, foundations and the philanthropies," added President Mkapa.

Participants also recognized that developing countries must lead their own efforts against HIV/AIDS, and partners must respect their lead. "I have to stress the second part, that the partners need to respect their lead, and that the wars in these nations must really must be country-led and internationally supported," he said.

Meanwhile, a separate roundtable held yesterday on the socio-economic impact of the pandemic emphasized the paramount need to reduce poverty and increase the availability of resources for prevention, care and treatment, according to the talking points released by Pakistan's Health Minister, Abdul Malik Kasi, who chaired the event.

It was stressed at the roundtable that there was a need for every country to chalk out its own preventive and impact mitigation strategy best suited to its circumstances. International involvement should be limited to advancement and making available, affordable and sustainable treatment and medicine.

The participants emphasized that since this was a common challenge, it must be fought with a unified approach. In this regard, views were expressed that any common approach must show full respect for each other's culture, faith and values, and that there should be no attempts to impose norms of one society over the other.