U.S.-Imposed Deadline on Global Fund Contributions From Foreign Countries ‘Impractical,’ Opinion Piece Says
The U.S.-imposed deadline for other countries to make donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to assure the maximum contribution from the United States is "impractical," Joel Meister, director of public health policy and management at the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health, and Nicholas Leydon, program associate for the Health Action AIDS Campaign with Physicians for Human Rights, write in an Arizona Daily Star opinion piece (Meister/Leydon, Arizona Daily Star, 12/5). Congress in fiscal year 2004 authorized $547 million for the fund. However, the bill (HR 1298) authorizing the pledge stipulates that the total U.S. contribution to the fund cannot exceed 33% of total contributions to the fund. Under the requirement, other donors would have to contribute a total of $1.11 billion to the Global Fund for the United States to provide the total $547 million that Congress authorized. Because the fund was $243 million short of the $1.11 billion by the July 31 deadline, the United States only would have been able to contribute $427 million and would have rolled the remaining $120 million back into the budget for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. However, U.S. Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, in August announced that he intended to hold the $120 million until Sept. 30 -- the end of the federal fiscal year -- to give other countries and foundations more time to make the additional contributions to the Global Fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/24). Although several countries made additional donations to the fund, the amount was not sufficient for the United States to contribute its total allocation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/29). According to Meister and Leydon, the proposed timetable was "wholly incompatible" with the timing of other countries' fiscal years and has cost the fund about $68 million, which could have prevented 100,000 new HIV cases and treated 25,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. "The United States has taken the lead in bringing other countries on board in the fight against global AIDS," according to the opinion piece, which concludes, "It shouldn't shoot itself -- and other countries -- in the foot by imposing an impractical deadline that undermines a worthy goal" (Arizona Daily Star, 12/5).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.