Minister Kitt pledges further support for Global Fund on HIV / AIDS
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr. Tom Kitt T.D., has announced that Ireland will be pledging a further contribution to the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria at an international donors' conference to be held in Paris on 16 July.
The pledge of €7.1m will bring to a total of €20m the amount contributed by the Government to the Global Fund during the first eighteen months of its existence. Ireland has been one of the strongest advocates and supporters of this Fund since its inception. It is one of only a small number of countries to have fully honoured its initial pledge of support.
Commenting on his decision, Minister Kitt said that the Global Fund is an extremely important instrument which has the potential to have a profound impact on global efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “I want Ireland to lead by example, allocating a very significant level of resources to the Global Fund and encouraging others to do likewise. HIV/AIDS is a critical development challenge, the greatest which we face in today's world, and the Global Fund is a key mechanism for responding to it”. Ireland was actively involved in the work of establishing the Global Fund and has participated in all five Board meetings to date. “We are absolutely committed to the Global Fund”, the Minister said, “and we will be continuing our support in future years. We have also been engaged in intensive contact with our EU colleagues over recent days with a view to encouraging generous commitments of support and maximising the overall EU contribution to the Global Fund”.
Minister Kitt emphasised the priority which he is assigning within Ireland's development cooperation programme to the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “It is a personal priority for me and one which I intend to push hard during Ireland's Presidency of the European Union. The crisis is becoming more urgent by the day and the international community must mobilise the resources to respond to it”.
Note for Editors
The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB was formally established in January 2002. It originated in a proposal from the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who called for a new international financing mechanism to mobilise the huge resources necessary to fight infectious diseases in poor countries. The secretariat of the Fund is located in Geneva.
The Fund has an Executive Board which is currently chaired by Mr. Tommy Thompson, the US Secretary for Health and Human Services. Ireland shares a seat on the Board with Sweden, Denmark, Norway and The Netherlands. The Executive Board also includes representatives from developing countries NGOs and the private sector.
Since its establishment the Fund has approved $1.5 billion in support of programmes in developing countries. It is now the principal international channel of support for developing countries, particularly in sub Saharan Africa, in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Fund divides its resources between prevention, treatment and care programmes
The Fund has estimated that its funding needs will be around $3 billion between mid- 2003 and end 2004. To date it has received $700m in firm pledges for this period, leaving a shortfall of $2.3 billion. On 16 July 2003 there will be an international meeting of donors in Paris, hosted by the French Government, in an effort to mobilise additional support for the Fund.
At present over 42 million people have contracted the HIV/AIDS virus, over 70% of whom live in sub Saharan Africa. Only 40,000 people in Africa have access to life saving anti-retroviral drugs. In some sub Saharan African countries, almost one adult in three is now infected. Africa has over 11 million children who have been orphaned because of AIDS. While the rates of infection in have been stabilised or declined in some countries (such as Senegal and Uganda), overall HIV/AIDS infection rates are continuing to increase in Africa.