Because of the economic downturn, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is running short of money, global business and health leaders said last week.
Pledges to the fund from donor nations are running about $5 billion (Rs 24,400 crore) short of what is needed through 2010, Rajat Gupta, the chairman of the fund’s board, said in a conference call with reporters from Davos, Switzerland.
One of the last rounds of support for poor countries’ disease-fighting programmes was postponed, another was cut by 10% and countries making requests were told to expect 25% cuts.
Critical support: Patients at a hospital in Kolkata. Lack of funds has affected support to poor countries’ disease-fighting programme. Sucheta Das / Reuters
“I’m hopeful and confident that donors will continue to finance this,” Gupta said, promising to scrutinize expenditures carefully and “tighten our belts”.
Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University development economist and one of those joining him on the call, was more vehement. The poor are refused $5 billion, he said angrily, while wealthy countries have found $3 trillion for bank bailouts and Wall Street bankers awarded themselves $18 billion in holiday bonuses while accepting those bailouts.
“This is absolutely in violation of the life and death pledges that the rich world made to the poor,” he said. “I would suggest the administration reclaim those bonuses and put the money into the Global Fund immediately.”
© 2009/The New York Times