Sat, Apr 06, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan to donate US$1m to new global health fund

PAYING BACK Taiwan's commitment is to demonstrate the part the country wants to play in world health issues and to repay past help

CNA , WASHINGTON

Taiwan has promised to donate US$1 million to the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Washington sources said Thursday.

At the suggestion of the Bush administration, the sources said, Taiwan's government made the promise in March this year to signify Taiwan's commitment to actively taking part in international activities and paying the international community back for its help in the past.

According to the sources, President George W. Bush has attached great importance to the US role in the global fund. Bush held a joint news conference with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the White House last May to explain the main purposes of the new fund.

When Bush administration officials sought Taiwan's support for the fund, the sources said, the proposal received an active response from Taiwan's representative to the US Chen Chien-jen (程建人) and director-general of the Department of Health Lee Ming-liang (李明亮). Shortly afterwards, the sources said, Taiwan's government offered to make the US$1 million donation to the fund.

The US government has pledged to donate up to US$500 million between 2001 and 2003, making the United States the largest donor to the special fund.

Statistical reports released by the fund showed that about 30 countries and institutions around the world have promised to donate a total of US$1.92 billion to the fund. Three other countries -- Kuwait, Austria and Zimbabwe -- have offered to donate the same amount of money as Taiwan.

Japan is so far the only East Asian donor country other than Taiwan, pledging to donate up to US$200 million. The charity foundation set up by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will donate US$100 million.

The global fund said it will begin to appropriate money to help finance various disease prevention and treatment projects this year, resulting in a 50 percent increase in the total budget for prevention of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries.

According to the fund, about 40 million people around the world have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 2001 alone, 5 million people contracted HIV, with more than 95 percent of them living in developing countries. In seven sub-Saharan African countries, more than 20 percent of the population is infected with HIV.

The fund said AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria claim 6 million lives every year.

The proposal to set up an international fund to fight the three diseases was first broached at the G-8 summit held in Okinawa, Japan in July 2000. The proposal received the unanimous support of all the participating countries to a UN-sponsored anti-AIDS meeting last June.

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