In her speech to the World Health Assembly Monday,
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland
welcomed the announcement by the United States government to
contribute US$200 million to a global HIV/AIDS and health fund aimed
at fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
In announcing the US contribution,
"the President of the United States signalled the importance of
global health, and the importance of working with the United Nations
as a partner, » Dr Brundtland said in the speech to Health
Ministers from WHO’s 191 Member States. "The U.S. has a key
role to play in the UN and in the betterment of world health."
WHO estimates that as much as US$7 billion are
needed from all sources annually to combat AIDS in low and middle
income countries for an effective response to the epidemic, and that
another $3 billion would be needed annually to drastically reduce the
impact of tuberculosis and malaria.
WHO anticipates that this announcement will give
significant momentum to the development of the fund. The US
announcement is particularly welcome in the run-up to both the United
Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS, to be held in New York from 25-27
June, and to the summit of the G-8 group of countries, scheduled for
Genoa, Italy, in July this year.
"A significant proportion of the new money is
needed to build the systems in health and other sectors needed to
deliver results," Dr Brundtland said in her speech. "This
means working through a diversity of public, not-for-profit and
private providers, with clear targets and better means for assessing
progress. WHO will intensify its support for Member States as they
scale up and streamline their health systems."
AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria continue to spread
worldwide and urgent measures are needed to stem the epidemic.
By the end of 2000, 36.1 million people were living
with HIV or AIDS, and 21.8 million had died since the start of the
epidemic. In 2000 alone, 3 million people died of AIDS-related causes
and 5.3 million were newly-infected.
More than 500 million people are affected by
malaria and one million people – mainly children – die each year
from the disease.
Around 8 million people become sick with
tuberculosis each year. It kills about 2 million people each year.