April 25, 2002
Fund's focus is 'appropriately' existing technologies, IAVI says, but calls for separate increase in funding for research into new drugs and vaccines
IAVI Board Member Richard Feachem named Global Fund Executive Director
25 April 2002—The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has announced more than US$600 million in two-year grants to programs worldwide to prevent and treat the three killer diseases. This is the first dispersement from the new Fund, which was created last year after United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the world to step up investment in prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
The Global Fund is supported by donations from governments, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations, corporations and individuals. To date, the Global Fund has collected US$2 billion in donations. Decisions about how to spend the money are made by the Fund's international Board of Directors in response to requests from programs working on AIDS, TB or malaria prevention or treatment. The Fund expects to solicit proposals for grants again later this year.
Roughly 60% of the grants just announced will support programs to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS—last year 5 million men, women and children were infected with HIV, and another 3 million who were already infected died of AIDS. More than 20 countries are receiving grants specifically to purchase antiretroviral medicines to prolong the lives of people living with HIV.
For this first round of funding, the Global Fund received more than 300 proposals, requesting in total US$1 billion.
"Kofi Annan has called on the world to support the Global Fund as if it were a war chest. What has been pledged so far is encouraging, but it falls far short of the mark," said Seth F. Berkley, MD, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). "AIDS is the Great Plague of our modern time, and we must mobilize a comprehensive, urgent response to this global emergency. IAVI calls on world leaders and international donors to continue their contributions to the Global Fund.
"Currently, the Global Fund is making grants only to support existing technologies for preventing infection and treating those already sick. This focus is entirely appropriate, given the enormity of these immediate needs. Yet we cannot lose sight of the long term," Dr. Berkley said. "IAVI also calls on world leaders and international donors to separately step up their commitments to research and development for more effective and safer drugs for killer diseases as well as preventive vaccines that can protect against HIV/AIDS, which are not now covered by the Global Fund."
IAVI estimates that just US$430-470 million is currently dedicated to worldwide research and development for preventive AIDS vaccines. This means that AIDS vaccine research gets less than 1% of total global spending on all health and pharmaceutical research and development.
Dr. Berkley also applauded the naming of Dr. Richard Feachem, Founding Director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of California, as Executive Director of the Global Fund. Dr. Feachem serves as a founding member of IAVI's Board of Directors: "Dr. Feachem has proven himself a tireless advocate on behalf of combating HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases as well as helping those most disproportionately afflicted by them. Through his lifetime commitment to public service, Dr. Feachem intimately understands that the world has a moral imperative to not just stand by as whole societies are decimated by suffering. Dr. Feachem is a wise and fair man whose vast experience will serve the Global Fund well."