September 27, 2007 / 12:32 PM / in 11 years

Donors pledge $10 billion to Global Fund

BERLIN (Reuters) - Donor countries promised nearly $10 billion (5 billion pounds) to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria over the next three years at a meeting on Thursday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan pose for media before the Global Fund Donor Conference in Berlin September 27, 2007. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Campaigners said the pledges were welcome but fell short of the long-term needs of the multilateral Fund, which provides resources for projects to fight the three diseases it says claim 6 million lives a year.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the total amount pledged for 2008-2010 was $9.7 billion.

“This is a good day for global health, for millions of poor people who are affected by these three diseases,” Annan told a news conference.

He said the total included “conservative” projections from the United States, Canada and Japan, prevented from making commitments for more than one year due to budgetary processes.

“These countries have indicated they will increase their contributions,” Annan said.

He added that another meeting, to make up the gap to the $12-18 billion needed, would take place in early 2009.

“Donor support for the Global Fund’s needs in 2008 looks promising,” said Oliver Buston, European Director of DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa).

“But AIDS infection rates are still rising fast, especially in Africa, and pledges beyond 2008 don’t yet reflect that fact.”

The Fund says it has saved 2 million lives since it was created in 2002 through partnerships with governments, the private sector and local communities.

Under Germany’s presidency this year, the Group of Eight industrialised nations committed to a $6-$8 billion a year replenishment of the Fund by 2010.

“We were promised a war chest to fight the three diseases but what we have got today demonstrates a weakening of nerve,” said Steve Cockburn from the Stop AIDS Campaign.

The Fund was promised a trebling of resources to expand its programmes, but got enough only for existing projects, he said.

Most pledges came from Europe, with one of the biggest from France. But countries from other regions, including China and South Korea also made promises, as did the private sector.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, pledged 600 million euros ($850 million) over the three years and Britain promised 1 billion pounds ($2 billion) up to 2015.

That included 360 million pounds for 2008-2010, a commitment activists denounced as being half the amount previously pledged.

The Fund also launched an initiative for rich nations to write off debts for developing countries who promise to give a share of the total to the Fund.

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