HIV :: UNAIDS pledges to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing world

Stressing the world body’s commitment to “make the money work” to ensure the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is as effective and beneficial as possible, the head of the lead United Nations agency tasked with responding to the pandemic called for a large-scale AIDS response now.

“There are so many challenges facing the developing world that some may ask why fighting HIV is a priority,” Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said at the Fund’s pledging conference in Berlin, Germany, where world leaders have announced their contributions for the next three years.

The answer is three-fold, he said. “The cost in lives has been tremendous, the cost of saving lives will only increase as time goes on without an adequate response, and, finally, responding to AIDS is essential in order to address every other development issue worldwide.”

He drew attention to the role the Organization can play in the fight against AIDS. “The United Nations’ technical expertise, its experience coordinating with countries, and its understanding of working with civil society are key contributors to the work of the Global Fund.”

At the meeting, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised the past efforts of the Global Fund, which has received contributions of over $11 billion from more than 60 Governments, private foundations, corporations and individuals.

After five years, “we have a fund that is highly successful in spending money to save lives,” he said, adding that “money channelled through the Global Fund is money invested wisely.”

Also addressing participants, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to countries worldwide to make the battle against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria a priority, underscoring the need to boost coordination between bilateral and multilateral programmes.

The Fund needs between $12 billion to 18 billion for the period 2008-2010 to support existing grants and finance urgently needed programmes to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

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