Skip to main content

Geneva meeting backs proposed global AIDS fund, UN official says

Geneva meeting backs proposed global AIDS fund, UN official says

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal to create a global fund to fight AIDS has received the backing of government and civil society representatives who held two days of talks in Geneva and agreed that the fund should be operational by the end of the year.

Bringing together 200 representatives of governments, multilateral and non-governmental organizations, private foundations and other stakeholders, the two-day consultation on the proposed Global AIDS and Health Fund was "extremely positive," according to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), one of the meeting's organizers.

UNAIDS senior policy officer Julia Cleves told reporters in Geneva today that there had been "no dissenting voices about the importance of the Fund" at the gathering, which concluded on Monday. She said that following the Secretary-General's appeal for the Fund in April, the meeting had been called on a relatively short notice to hear the views of governments of developing countries and civil society before the UN General Assembly's special session at the end of June, and the G8 meeting taking place in Genoa in July.

Ms. Cleves stressed that the large turnout was a real indication of how important the idea of a new international fund for HIV/AIDS and health had become. She said that this consultation was particularly exciting because it was the first time that all of the different views that had been represented had been brought together at one time, including the views of civil society, developing countries, G8 donors, non-G8 donors, and the different UN agencies.

According to UNAIDS, participants stressed that resources should be provided in response to clear proposals, and should be used in a transparent manner. They also emphasized that those who use the funds must demonstrate the impact of their programmes and pointed out that resources should be used on the prevention of illness as well as treatment.

"We are calling for a substantial increase in the resources needed to fight disease," Uganda's Health Minister, Crispus Kiyonga, said in a closing statement to the session. "We must tailor the scale of resources to the problem at hand and find ways to obtain and use them as quickly as possible."

The UN estimates that an effective response to AIDS in low- and middle-income countries will cost $7-$10 billion per year. Currently, $1.8 billion is spent in developing countries to battle AIDS. The resource gap for combating tuberculosis and malaria is estimated to be $2 billion per year.