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Ban calls funding global fight against AIDS, TB, malaria ‘smart investment’

Ban calls funding global fight against AIDS, TB, malaria ‘smart investment’

In this time of economic turmoil, putting money behind the fight against the AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics is a “smart investment,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, as he urged donors to fund United Nations-backed efforts to stop the spread of the deadly diseases.

“Across Africa, AIDS threatens to reduce GDP [gross domestic product] by up to 2.6 per cent,” warned Mr. Ban in a video message to the mid-term review meeting of the second voluntary replenishment process of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Mr. Ban noted that since 2001 the Global Fund has committed over $10 billion to health programmes in 140 countries, “helping to keep parents, workers and teachers alive and productive.”

Programmes supported by the Fund have helped delay the onset of AIDS in 2 million HIV-positive people, detected and treated 4.6 million cases of TB, delivered 70 million insecticide-treated bed nets and administered 74 million malaria drug treatments.

“It has been a success. The Global Fund has saved millions of lives. It is important that we replenish it,” Mr. Ban told the meeting in Cacares, Spain.

Pointing to the $4 billion the Global Fund needs to meet its 2010 targets, Mr. Ban said, “I say to you that spending on AIDS, TB and malaria is a smart investment. It is a true recovery package.”

According to the Secretary-General, TB costs the world’s poorest communities $16 billion a year, whereas containing it will only cost $4.2 billion a year. Similarly, malaria costs Africa $12 billion a year when just $3.4 billion dollars will pay for prevention and treatment.

Mr. Ban called on the international community to honour their commitments made at the Group of Eight (G-8) Gleneagles Summit in 2005 to fully fund all credible plans.