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NEW FUNDING NEEDED TO FIGHT HIV/AIDS, TB AND MALARIA, UN CHIEF WARNS

Source: unic.org

With 4,500 people dying from tuberculosis every day and a child succumbing to malaria every 45 seconds, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today sought to drum up support for a United Nations-backed Fund to combat such lethal diseases.

“The Fund is successful,” he told politicians, philanthropists and health experts gathered in New York in support of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on the margins of a three-day UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash a host of social ills, including disease.

“In just seven years, it has saved close to 5 million lives. Very few initiatives can make such a claim,” he said of the Fund, a public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to fight the diseases, bringing together governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities.

Since its creation in 2002, it has become the main funding tool for such programmes, with approved funding of $19.3 billion for more than 572 programs in 144 countries. It provides a quarter of all international financing for AIDS globally, two thirds for tuberculosis and three quarters for malaria.

Laying out the challenges ahead, Mr. Ban noted that some $26 billion to $42 billion will be required annually between 2011 and 2015 to meet global targets on women's and children's health, and a further $28 billion to $50 billion each year during the same period to reach universal access targets.

“These figures can be intimidating. But other figures are even more compelling,” he said. “For every two people who start anti-HIV treatment, there are five new infections. Every day, 4,500 people die from tuberculosis. And every 45 seconds, a child dies of malaria. So, while we are making progress, the picture is uneven, and much remains to be done. I know you are putting all your energies into meeting these challenges.

“World leaders at the summit are striving to fulfil their commitments to the Millennium Development Goals. Let us make sure that investments in global health are sustained, despite economic constraints. Supporting the Global Fund is one of the best ways that this investment can be made.”

Mr. Ban also took note of past health successes, with new HIV infections decreasing by 17 per cent since 2001, tuberculosis efforts saving some 6 million lives, and financing secured for almost all the bed nets needed to fight malaria.

“These successes owe much to dramatic increases in investments in health,” he said. “Indeed, it is unusual in development work to see such a direct correlation between investment and results. We are here, however, not to celebrate success. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria brought us together because we must do more. Global health needs champions, to mobilize the resources needed to continue our work.”

Those attending today's event included Botswana's former president Festus Moghae, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Melinda Gates of the philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Zambian community health activist Carol Nyirenda.