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Global health fund falls short of pledge

Donors pledge a total of USD 9.7bn to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at a fund-raising conference in Berlin, but campaigners say more is needed

Donors have pledged USD 9.7bn to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria at a fund-raising conference in Berlin.

The figure was an increase over previous donations, but fell well short of the USD 15bn to USD 18bn original goal.

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general who led the creation of the multilateral fund in 2002, said he was very pleased with the pledges made. Some outside campaigners, however, were disappointed.

ActionAid, a coalition of groups pushing for more health care for poor countries, said: 'Today's pledges are welcome, but more needs to be mobilised.'

The group applauded the size of gifts from Spain (USD 600m), Norway (USD 205m), Sweden (USD 281m) and the Netherlands (USD 326m), but criticised the largest donors, which included Germany (USD 849m), France (USD 1.3bn) and the UK (USD 729m), saying they could have done more, given the relative strength of their economies.

The donations, which will be spent over the next three years, do not include new pledges from Japan and the US.

The US maintained its annual contribution level, which would add up to USD 2.2bn over the three years, until Congress passes a new budget. Japan said it would announce its contribution when it hosts to the Group of 8 summit meeting in 2008. If Japan's funding stays at current levels, it will contribute around USD 184m.

Other significant donors included the EU Commission, which pledged USD 425m, as well as the Gates Foundation, which pledged USD 300m. The next biggest sources of funds are two separate programs established by the Bush administration to fight AIDS and malaria.

The fund, which has spent about USD 7bn in 136 countries since its inauguration, is the main source of money for the fight against the three diseases. The fund says it has saved two million lives so far, largely through the distribution of mosquito nets and the provision of HIV drugs.

The fund calculates that it will need to spend USD 8bn a year by 2010, if it is to keep the target diseases under control.

30th September 2008

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