Global Fund could spend US$ 616 million over two years

In an extremely swift, three-month proposal and review process in part designed to impress donors and so ensure top-up funding, at the end of April the Board of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) selected proposals from 31 countries for 40 action programmes in the three diseases of poverty.

The programmes will receive US$ 378 million over two years, with another 18 weaker proposals from 12 countries being "fast-tracked" for improvement and potential approval later.

Some countries such as Myanmar and Kenya (see adjacent story) have been surprised at their rejection, but difficulties in the initial allocations have been put down to countries needing more time to understand and follow the Fund's exacting requirements.

Anders Nordström, Interim Executive Director of the Global Fund, said "we prioritized high-quality proposals that were based on effective programmes and lessons learnt, and were developed by partnerships of governments, community organizations, people living with the diseases, and other groups."

Philippa Lawson of the Academy for Educational Development, member of the Global Fund Board representing people living with or affected by one of the three diseases, was impressed but gave a warning about the scale of the funding: "The Global Fund has raised more than US$ 2 billion in less than a year. This is a successful start, but the Fund needs far more resources to fight AIDS, TB, and malaria — millions of lives are at stake." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in calling for the establishment of the Fund had been thinking of disbursing US$ 7–10 billion each year, some 20 times the Fund's committed spending.

Realistically, however, the next test for the Fund will be whether the 40 funded (and 18 to-be- funded) programmes really work. Here the recipient countries (see below) have an enormous responsibility, for if the money is misused or badly spent, the Fund will either close or sink into being just another small donor mechanism.

Richard Feachem, past Editor-in-Chief of the Bulletin and currently Founding Director of the Institute for Global Health, will take over as Executive Director of the Fund in August. Feachem is also a Professor of International Health at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley, past Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank, and past Dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London.

"It is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to work for the Global Fund," he said. "The poverty and suffering caused by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are immense. The Fund is positioned to make large investments in controlling these terrible diseases and improving the lives of millions of families throughout the world. I look forward to contributing to the Fund's success, to leading the Secretariat, and to working with the Fund's many partners and supporters. Together we can make a difference."

Countries with immediately successful proposals in this first round were: Argentina, Benin, Burundi, Cambodia, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Korea DPR, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.&nbsp

Robert Walgate, Bulletin

World Health Organization Genebra - Genebra - Switzerland