World Bank promises additional $500 million to fight AIDS

Washington- US (PANA) -- The president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn said the institution would shortly provide additional 500 million US dollars toward the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Wolfensohn told a press conference Friday at the ongoing meeting of the Bank and the IMF in Washington that the fight against AIDS is a priority for the Bank.
"I announced a few months ago a 500-million-dollar programme for Africa.
That's virtually used up.
I'm about to do another 500 million dollars," he said.
On a global level, Wolfensohn said, the Bank - the largest financier of AIDS programmes - has put up about 1.
8 billion dollars in the fight against the deadly disease.
Earlier this week, Wolfensohn announced a commitment of 150 million dollars for an AIDS programme for the Caribbean.
The Bank intends to soon move to a second AIDS programme for India, a very populous country that is seen as the next potential attack point for the epidemic.
"There is no place that has needs that we're not responding to, but the issue is not just money, and the issue is not just the cost of retroviral drugs, important as the issue is," he said.
Wolfensohn said AIDS has to be tackled through an integrated approach that covers preventive programmes, improvement of health care systems and the provision of care and treatment for those infected.
Another task, he said, is to take care of AIDS orphans who number about 10 million in Africa alone.
"So what we are doing is to take an overall approach.
We have a centralised group in the Bank, and that relates to AIDS.
" He said that the Bank is expected to run the global fund for AIDS and other diseases that was this week proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the African AIDS Summit in Abuja, Nigeria.
Annan proposed the funds for AIDS, saying that at least seven billion dollars was needed annually to fight the scourge.
While the Bank will handle the administration of the fund, Wolfensohn said, other relevant UN agencies would handle the implementation of programmes being supported by the fund.
Wolfensohn said AIDS would be one of the main themes for consideration at the Spring meetings in Washington.
Besides AIDS, another social issue for consideration is education.
Since the conclusion of the international conference on education in Dakar, Senegal a year ago, Wolfensohn said the Bank has done projects worth one billion dollars in the sector.
"Subject to our budget increase, we'll be putting more effort and more people and more money into the educational initiatives that we have already started," Wolfensohn added.

28 april 2001 10:30:00




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