Health GAP PRESS RELEASE -- For Immediate Release -- 27 May 2003
Contact in Geneva and Evian: Sharonann Lynch, +1 646.645.5225,
Paul Davis +1 215.833.4102, Asia Russell +1 267.475.2645
Contact in the United States: Kris Hermes +1 267.971.4665

From 56th World Health Assembly to the G8 Summit: Activists applaud new WHO mandate for 3 million on AIDS drugs in developing countries by 2005, condemn G7 for refusing to pay for it; Demand regular payments to broke Global AIDS Fund

(United Nations) Activists responded today to the WHOıs passage of directives to incoming Director General J.W. Lee to achieve scale-up of HIV treatment access to three million people with HIV by 2005, to monitor and analyze the implications of trade agreements on public health, and to assist countries in mitigating the negative impact of those agreements.

"If donors are ready to confront the AIDS crisis with the resources and commitment used in responding to SARS then this target is feasible and credible. The target is fake as long as the G7 donors refuse to mobilize the billions needed, in particular at least $1.4 billion dollars for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria before the end of this year,² said Asia Russell of Health GAP. SARS, a serious emerging disease, has killed 400 people since its outbreak about 5 months ago; untreated AIDS, on the other hand, kills 8500 people each day. Activists also urged donors to adopt a system of regular annual payments to the Fund, based on donor wealth.

An amendment to the WHO AIDS resolution, submitted by India, calls on countries to pay more towards global AIDS programs, referencing the agreement made by all UN countries at the 2001 UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS to contribute at least $7-$10 billion annually by 2005.

At the request of President Chirac, global AIDS will be on the agenda at Evian; a new U.S. AIDS bill President Bush will sign this week will draw added attention to the issue of global AIDS at the G8 Summit. Activists criticized Bushıs bilateral AIDS plan for sideswiping the multilateral Global Fund. "Bushıs new go-it-alone AIDS bill cannot succeed without the Global Fund,² said Sharonann Lynch of Health GAP. ³But Bush and the other G7 Heads of State have committed only crumbs to the Global Fund." The White House announced its intent to contribute only $200 million on the Global Fund in 2004‹less than the current 2003 sum. Bush also opposed lawmaker's attempts to add amendments that would have increased the funding to the Global Fund.

During the Assembly, the US and EC blocked several pro-public health amendments to a WHO resolution from Brazil and the Africa Group on patent rights and public health. According to activists, this underscores the importance of full funding of multilateral mechanisms like the Global Fund. ³The US is unwilling to put the human right to medicines access before the commercial interests of big pharma,² said Kris Hermes of Health GAP. ³Limited resources means money must be spent wisely, on quality generic medicines, to save more lives.²

The G8 launched the Global Fund at the Genoa Summit in 2001. After modest start-up donations, rich countries have given very little. The Global Fund is now virtually out of money and is unable to cover an upcoming round of grants coming in October - unless major new commitments are made at Evian." G7 leaders have patted themselves on the back for two years for creating this Global Fund,² reports Brook Baker of Health GAP. "The bankruptcy of the Global Fund heading into the G8 Summit in Evian reveals the utter betrayal by the G7 of millions of people with AIDS. Only regular payments will optimize the Global Fundıs ability to finance the sustained and aggressive interventions necessary to stop the onslaught of the epidemic."

G7 countries in addition to the US have been miserly in their Global Fund pledges and payments. In 2002, Germany has paid as much as Nigerian in absolute dollars to the Global Fund‹10 million. French and US activists are demanding at least $500 million in 2003 from their respective governments to fill the $1.4 billion resource gap currently faced by the Global Fund in 2003 alone.

The first two rounds of Global Fund grants are financing ARV treatment for 500,000 people with HIV, treatment for two million people with infectious TB, and treatment for 20 million people with drug-resistant malaria. New grant rounds are expected to continue to become more sophisticated and comprehensive - and more expensive.

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