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Britain’s Brown Unveils $10 Bln Plan to Beat AIDS

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British finance minister Gordon Brown unveiled a $10 billion plan to revitalize the fight against AIDS on Thursday, saying his scheme might be the world’s only hope of beating the epidemic.

Brown wants donors to pledge dramatic funding increases for every front in the battle against HIV/AIDS, from speeding up research into vaccines to providing life-saving drugs for the millions of victims who would otherwise be beyond the reach of treatment.”I believe that the generation that provided the finance to combat, cure and eradicate the world’s deadliest disease of today — and today the world’s least curable disease — HIV/AIDS – will rightly earn the title ‘the great generation’,” Brown said in a speech to aid workers and officials on his African tour.Britain has pledged to use its presidency of the G8 group of industrialized nations this year to push for a “Marshall plan” to fight poverty through debt relief, dismantling trade barriers and boosting aid, as well as raising AIDS funding.”Existing financial mechanisms on their own will not stop the pandemic,” Brown said. “I believe that the strategy I have put forward today … is not just a better way but perhaps the only way of avoiding an even greater catastrophe,” he said.By securing pledges of funds Brown hopes to ensure that governments can make the necessary investments now in everything from hospitals to sex education and the bulk buying of drugs to save millions of lives in the future.Brown said his scheme aims to double funding for research on an HIV/AIDS vaccine from the current 400 million pounds ($750 million) spent each year, and build a global system to coordinate work by scientists so breakthroughs can be shared more widely.By doubling research spending, Brown said, scientists could bring forward the development of a vaccine by three years from the existing prediction of around 2020, saving 6 million lives and reducing treatment costs.The scheme also aims to encourage drugs firms to accelerate the search for a vaccine by persuading rich countries to promise to buy doses on behalf of governments in Africa, the continent hardest hit by the disease.”If donors committed to buying the first 300 million vaccine courses at $20 per course of vaccinations, for example, that would translate into a $6 billion guarantee – large enough to induce much stronger interest from both large and small pharmaceutical firms,” Brown said.RAPID EXPANSION Brown will also seek billions of dollars of funding increases for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, ensuring it can rely on a steady supply of cash to finance rapid expansion of AIDS programs in poor countries.Hoping that the global outpouring of sympathy for victims of the Asian tsunami will persuade rich countries to provide more funds, Brown said the AIDS scheme would be combined with broader moves to fight poverty fueling the epidemic.Funding for the plan will come from Brown’s planned International Finance Facility, which seeks to double aid by leveraging existing budgets in the capital markets and give $50 billion more in aid each year to the poorest nations.Brown said more than 50 countries including France and Italy had said they would back the facility, although the United States has so far failed to fully endorse the plan. (Source: Reuters Health, January 2005)

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Posted On: 15 January, 2005
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

Created by: myVMC