Kansas City Star: The global AIDS coordinator for the Bush administration made the right call last week. He gave the rest of the world time to catch up on its donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Earlier this year, Congress approved a $547 million U.S. contribution to the Global Fund. As the legislation was written, however, the U.S. donation could not exceed one-third of all money going to the fund this year.
Match falls short
For the Global Fund to receive the full $547 million, the rest of the world had to contribute $1.1 billion by July 31. World donations came up $240 million short, and $120 million of the U.S. contribution has been held up. But Bush's global AIDS coordinator, Randall L. Tobias, on Wednesday said he would give other nations and private donors until Sept. 30 to make up the shortfall.
These are difficult economic times for many governments, and some have given all that they can. Some countries have already increased their donations; the British, for example, tripled theirs. But the extension will allow other countries a chance to dig a little deeper for this important program.
Needs continue to grow
No one can dispute the horrific effect AIDS is having on a number of countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the Global Fund needs $10 billion annually to be effective in combating and controlling AIDS. The donations from the United States and the rest of the world this year will only scratch the surface, but it's better than doing nothing.
If donations to the Global Fund do not reach $1.1 billion, the remainder of the money allocated could go to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which fights AIDS in 15 African and Caribbean countries. That's a worthy program, too, but the Global Fund has a much wider geographical scope and is less restricted in the types of programs it can sponsor.
The United States has made an important contribution to fighting AIDS; it's important that the rest of the world makes the most of it.