Experts fault Vienna conference

July 23, 2010 12:00 am

, VIENNA, Austria, Jul 23 – The week-long International Aids Conference came to an end on Friday, but a global movement has described it as a disappointment.

Oxfam GB said although there was good news on successful clinical trials of vaccines and microbicides to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, the conference failed to make any real commitments to ensure universal access to prevention, treatment and care.

“We do realise that this is not a pledging conference, it is not a conference where donors are expected to say how much they will put into the Global Fund. However it is a conference that highlights needs, demands and success of the Global Fund programmes,” Oxfam GB Senior Health and HIV Policy Advisor Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni told Capital News.

Dr Kamal-Yanni said that the conference gave little hope that the $20 billion replenishment of the fund would be fully achieved in October.

“The host country, Austria, set the wrong tone. It pledged $1 million into the Global Fund at its inception (2002) and have not put any money and have now said they are not planning to put any money in it,” she said.

“We do urge the Austrian government to put their fair share in Global Fund and Global health,” she added.

She said there would be a Millennium Development Goals summit in September where world leaders are expected to address progress towards achieving MDGs which includes universal access to HIV, TB and Malaria.

“We hope that donors will be ready by then to pledge although the actual announcements are expected to be made in the beginning of October in New York. They have to make their minds now and the donors need to hear the message from the African governments and civil societies for replenishment of Global Fund,” she said.

Dr Kamal-Yanni said if the donors did not pledge enough in October, the Global Fund would have to work on a shoe string budget and this would mean that there would be no rolling out of new programmes.

“We need to mount a very big and effective public campaign all over the world to pressurise donors to put money into the Global Fund,” she said.

“Aid for poor countries represents a very small fraction of the donor budget so it will make little saving even if they cut,” she added.

She said the Global Fund had given three scenarios for the replenishment. The first one would be if the global fund did not give enough money, it would only cover the programmes that were currently in place but would not introduce any new ones.

The second scenario, she said, would be if the donors pledged about $17 billion, it would cover the current programmes as well as a few expansion programmes but would not near universal access.

The third would be if they gave the ideal $20 billion, this would cover the existing programmes as well as new one and achieve a lot towards universal access.

She however emphasised that this was not a decision making meeting but one that was aimed at highlighting issues that were affecting universal access towards  treatment, care and support  and make recommendations on what countries should consider.


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