Ireland to Commit Significant Additional Resources to The Global Fight Against AIDS - O'Donnell
Liz O'Donnell T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, today attended a meeting of EC Development Ministers in Brussels.
Before the Council Ministers met with Dr.Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organisation, to consider the issues which will arise at the forthcoming (25-27 June) meeting of the UN to discuss the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
Speaking after the meeting with Dr. Brundtland, Ms. O'Donnell said:
" EU Development Ministers discussed the HIV/AIDS crisis with the Director General of the World Health Organisation. The Taoiseach and I will lead the national delegation to a Special Session of the UN on 25-27 June which will deal with the global efforts to fight HIV/AIDS."
"AIDS is now the primary cause of death in Africa where most of our assistance is targeted. It is the central development challenge of our time. Both the Taoiseach and I have, over the past year, worked to push the issue up the EU and UN agenda."
"Dr. Brundtland briefed us on the current discussions to establish a Global Fund for HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.. The UN Secretary General has called for such a fund and for donors to give up to $10 billion to the effort to fight HIV/AIDS. That is the minimum amount which the UN estimates is necessary to stop the spread of the disease and to care for the infected."
"Ireland is participating in these discussions very closely. Next year the Ireland Aid programme will increase by 55% or over £100million. This is an unprecedented rate of expansion for any donor and will see Ireland reaching the Government's interim target of spending 0.45% of GNP on overseas development aid."
"Ireland is in a position to commit very significant additional resources to HIV/AIDS, particularly in sub Saharan Africa. We will look at all available channels for disbursing our funds including the new Global Fund, additional debt relief, more money in our bilateral programmes, increased funding for NGO activities and increases in our funding to organisations such as UNAIDS. Our primary concern is to ensure that our increased funding reaches the most affected communities quickly and in partnership with the Governments of the countries concerned. This must involve investment towards improving national health systems in affected countries"
At the Council, Ministers focussed on the implementation of efforts to reform the EC programme of development assistance. There was also a discussion of the contribution development cooperation can make to preventing conflict.
On the issues discussed at the Council, Liz O'Donnell said:
"The EC programme of development aid has been rightly criticised for its bureaucracy and inefficiency. Ireland and other member States have pressed for and achieved an ambitious programme of policy and management reform.
A new office, Europe Aid was established in January to rationalise the management of the EC programme. Staff are being sent from Brussels to the field. The backlog in unspent funds in being addressed. We have approved a new policy which is focussed on poverty eradication. In October the Commission will present the first ever annual report on EC development cooperation. Ministers have discussed concrete targets which the programme should meet.
While much has been achieved there remains a need to ensure that reform is pushed through. The EC, which is one of the largest global donors of aid, should have a programme which makes a significant contribution to the global effort to eradicate poverty. It should be a programme of which the citizens of the EU can be proud."Top