African states face new health catastrophe as GF plans budget cuts

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- A global campaign is underway to urge US President Barac k Obama to avert a looming health catastrophe that African nations face as a res u lt of a 15 per cent budget cut, which could deny each African state as much as 1 million mosquito-bed nets a year, activists said here Thursday, ahead of a key m e eting on future funding.
The Global Fund on Tuberculosis, HIV and Malaria, is set to hold its board meeti ng in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from Friday (6 Nov) to make critical d e cisions on the allocation of funds for a new round of funding for the three lead i ng killer diseases in Africa -- malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.
According to Patrick Bertrand, the Principal Partner of the London-based think-t ank, the Global Health Advocates, more than 200 activists, including networks of organisations dealing with malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB, gathered in Nairobi to lobb y the US President to announce a substantial donation to enable the Global Fund m e et its obligations.
"The network of organisations dealing with malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB, have starte d a campaign to urge Obama that the campaign against these three diseases is hal f -way won.
"At least 40-50 per cent of the people suffering from these diseases have been a ble to get drugs.
But we need him to take the leadership and increase US funding , " Bertrand told PANA.
The Global Fund is meeting in Addis Ababa, under the leadership of the Ethiopian Health Minister, Tewodros Adhanom, who was elected to the chairmanship in July, 2009.
Activists warned that the Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria meeting is e xpected to announce a 15 per cent cut on budgetary allocation for these three di s eases, which comprise the largest burden on Africa's public health system.
"We know if President Obama gives one dollar, it means other donors will recipro cate with two dollars.
The Global Fund requires US$ 6 billion to US$ 8 billion a year.
A contribution equivalent to one third of this figure should come from the US.
We expect the minimum from the US to be US$ 2 billion, but the US currently c ontributes less than a billion," Bertrand warned.
The funding crisis facing the Global Fund is expected to lead to the 15 per cent reduction in funding for the war against the three diseases.
This implies that African states, which have used the funding from the Global Fu nd to offer free medicines for TB patients at public hospitals, would be forced t o cut their doses.
It means that Burkina Faso, which distributes free mosquito bed-nets to help cur b malaria deaths, will not have the funds to do so.
Meanwhile, the Global Fund will not announce another round of financial disburse ments for the round 10.
Activists said the failure to launch the Round 10 call for proposals, means that funding for these diseases would be delayed for another 18 months to await the d ecisions to be made in September, 2010, when the financiers of the Global Fund m e et again to pledge.

05 november 2009 14:59:00

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