For Immediate Release:
1 June 2003
For more information, contact:
+1 267 475 2645 Asia Russell,
+1 646 645 5225 Sharonann Lynch,
+1 215 833 4102 Paul Davis

G7 Donors Agree: Time for More Empty Posturing on Global AIDS Crisis

Global AIDS Fund faces bankruptcy while European Development Fund sits on 10 billion unspent euros and Pres. Bush blocks bipartisan efforts to increase U.S. contribution

(Evian) At the opening of the G8 Summit in Evian, AIDS activists decried the refusal of the G7 donors to fulfill their promise to fund the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund). The Global Fund was launched by the G8 during the Genoa Summit in 2001. "With an epidemic expected to explode from 42 million in 2003 to 100 million infected people by 2010, the agreement by Bush, Chirac, Blair and Schroder to abandon the Global Fund is a shameful and dangerous betrayal of past promises," said Asia Russell of Health GAP. According to activists, because donor countries have avoided paying their fair share to Global Fund, it will be bankrupt before its third round of grants, scheduled for October 2003 and expected to cost $1.6 billion.

"The Heads of State who created this Fund pumped it for positive publicity two years ago, and now have decided to orphan it, after deliberately manipulating the hopes and expectations of millions of people with HIV in developing countries," said Sharonann Lynch of Health GAP. The Global Fund is a multilateral financing mechanism that so far has committed $1.5 billion of funding for 93 programs in developing countries. Experts consider the Global Fund currently the best hope for scaling up life extending HIV treatment access in developing countries.

The unspent 10 billion euros in the European Development Fund (EDF) is further indication of the indifference of wealthy countries to the fate of the Global Fund, and to the fate of people living with HIV, say activists. "8500 people with AIDS die each day because they don't have the resources the Global Fund can help provide. People with AIDS have no time to wait for the EDF to decide whether it can free up $10 billion euros to fund the Global Fund - rapid, streamlined disbursement of this money is crucial," said Kris Hermes of Health GAP.

Even President Bush's much-lauded 5-year plan to spend $10 billion in new money on AIDS in 14 African and Caribbean countries is hobbled by his stingy and dwindlingcontribution to the new Global Fund, according to activists. "The Global Fund is up and running now, unlike Bush's untested bilateral program," said Sharonann Lynch of Health GAP. "The Global Fund's efforts building infrastructure, strengthening procurement networks, and developing treatment literacy among people with HIV provide a foundation that the Bush plan needs in order to have any hope of success. But without money, the Global Fund can't succeed."

In addition to quashing increased contributions to the Global Fund, for more than one year the White House has single handedly blocked efforts at the WTO to secure broader access to exported generic medicines for poor countries with inefficient capacity for local production of medicines. A leaked copy of U.S. comments to the draft G8 Health Communique shows the U.S. will avoid any mention of key issues impeding access to medicines, including drug pricing and the impact intellectual property on medicines access. "The issue of access to affordable generic medicines is the litmus test for whether or not global trade rules benefit the world's poor," said Brook Baker of Health GAP. "The White House's intransigence on this issue is just one more example of its willingness to ignore international commitments and jeopardize access to desperately needed medicines."

New contributions to the Global Fund will be announced during the Summit, but are likely to be insignificant. "The UK announced this week they would extend their miserly contribution of $40 million annually out two more years to 2007 and 2008," said Amanda Lugg of Health GAP. "The Global Fund's cash crunch of $1.4 billion is happening now - making the sham British commitment about as helpful as trying to patch the Titanic with a Band-Aid."


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