CHIANG MAI, THAILAND - October 16 - On the same day as a U.S. Senate vote on an amendment to a spending bill that would determine whether or not the U.S. would
contribute $1 billion in authorized spending to the Global Fund in 2004, the U.S. delegation to the Global Fund Board originally opposed the on-time launch
of the next Global Fund grant cycle in order to justify its own neglect of the
Global Fund, according to activists. The final decision of the Global Fund
Board was not to delay the launch of the fourth round of requests for
proposals, now scheduled for January 10, 2004. Unanswered questions still face the Board over how the next funding round will attract larger, quality
applications for HIV treatment.
"The U.S. was working to delay the release of the request for proposals. Downsizing the scope and speed of the Global Fund makes sense if delegations want to shield themselves from criticism about their own stingy
contributions," said Asia Russell of Health GAP. "But if you are one of the
3.2 million people living with HIV who will die without access to treatment
next year, it makes no sense."
The well-publicized goal promoted by the WHO to provide therapy to 3 million people by 2005 faced a setback with the results of the latest round of grants
announced at the board meeting. Unless the Global Fund raises additional funds
from the U.S. and other donors enabling two rounds of disbursements in 2004, while facilitating technical guidance on HIV treatment scale-up for
applicants, its contributions toward the "3 by 5" initiative will remain be
negligible: only 240,000 on ARV treatment by 2005, or 8% of the total,
according to Global Fund officials.
The Global Fund estimates $3 billion dollars is needed to cover the costs of proposals in 2004. Because of the shortfall of funding to cover the latest round, its third, the Board authorized "borrowing" against future pledges made
Launched in January 2001 as a new multilateral emergency response to the
growing pandemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria, the number and size of Global Fund
grants have reduced over time, particularly for HIV/AIDS treatment programs.
In the developing world the number of people dying daily because of untreated
HIV/AIDS has risen to 8,500, causing the WHO to declare the lack of access to
antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in developing countries a "Global Health
Because of consistent underfunding and lack of technical assistance for
recipient countries submitting proposals for HIV treatment programs, the Fund's third round of grants announced yesterday constituted a 38% drop in the
number of new people on ARV treatment from the previous round of grant
disbursements. 283,000 people are expected to be receiving HIV therapy due to
Global Fund financing in the second round. For Africa the amount of people
expected to be on treatment in the first year of grant disbursement, 93,000,will be less than half than were covered in the previous round.
"This round should be a wake-up call for the Global Fund," said Sharonann
Lynch of Health GAP. "Unless billions are committed for 2004, along with
aggressive and competent technical assistance to applicants, we will not seean improvement in the size of proposals towards scaling up treatment."
White House is obstructing efforts to commit $1 billion next year to the
Global Fund, despite a previous spending promise by President Bush. "Bush
wants his bilateral AIDS program to be the only game in town, even if it means
undermining multilateral programs that are already up and running and proving
effective, and that should be complementary with the Global Fund," said Amanda
Lugg of Health GAP.
The delegations of people living with HIV/AIDS and activist groups lost an
earlier debate at the board meeting, requesting the Global Fund adopt a
funding framework requiring countries commit to annual financing to the GFATM
based on the size of their economies.