Minister O'Donnell announces huge increase in Ireland's contribution to the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
Contribution totaling €12.5m pledged to new Global Fund and to UNAIDS.
Liz O'Donnell T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, today announced a massive scaling up of Ireland's international contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDs.
Speaking following her meeting with Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, the UN organisation responsible for international action against AIDS, Liz O'Donnell said:
“Last year Ireland made a commitment to the UN that we would contribute an additional €34m ($30m) per year to the fight against AIDS.
This was in line with our view that HIV/AIDS is now the single most important challenge to development in the world's poorest countries. Since making that pledge we have been working with UNAIDS, other donors and developing countries towards establishing a new Global Fund to finance the efforts of the most highly infected countries to fight the disease.
Dr. Piot and I have welcomed the decision to establish such a Fund which I expect will become operational in March 2002. The Fund will be based in Geneva and its Board will include donors, developing countries, UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation and NGOs.
I told Dr. Piot that Ireland would contribute €10 million to the new Fund in 2002. We will work with the Fund to ensure that its resources are channeled effectively to the countries most in need.
I also told Dr. Piot that Ireland will increase its funding of UNAIDS from €650,000 in 2001 to €2.95m in 2002.
Since I became Minister with responsibility for Development Cooperation, I have been horrified by the devastation that HIV/AIDS is causing particularly in Africa. I have seen at first hand the suffering of the infected, the plight of orphans and the inability of under-resourced health systems in poor countries to deal with the epidemic.
I have made the fight against HIV/AIDS a key component in Ireland's national programme of development cooperation. The Review Committee on the future of the programme, which I chair, is devoting close attention to Ireland Aid's role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Our approach will be to fund a mix of activities which are related to the HIV/AIDS pandemic - the search for a vaccine, the purchase of drugs, the building of indigenous health systems in the poor countries most affected, the care of orphans by Missionaries, palliative care of those dying and welfare for those living with AIDS. AIDS has now been mainstreamed in our priority countries.
In 2002 I expect that Ireland will spend over €50m across the national programme of development cooperation on the fight against HIV/AIDS. This is a huge increase over the €19m which was spent in 2001. The money will be aimed at helping the poorest countries with the heaviest HIV/AIDS burdens to cope with the epidemic.”
Note for Editors
Ireland's Overseas Development Assistance will increase by 55% in 2002 to €455m or a projected 0.45% of GNP.
According to the latest UNAIDS statistics AIDS has become the most devastating disease humankind has ever faced. Since the epidemic began, more than 60 million people have been infected with the virus. HIV/AIDS is now the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.
At the end of 2001, an estimated 40 million people globally were living with HIV, 28.1 million in sub Saharan Africa. In many parts of the developing world, the majority of new infections occurred in young adults, with young women especially vulnerable. About one-third of those currently living with HIV/AIDS are aged 15-24.