Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Blair pledges more AIDS funding for developing nations

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday launched Britain's strategy against the AIDS pandemic in the developing world, promising more money to children who have been orphaned by disease and to the Global Fund which helps countries pay for life-saving treatment.

Speaking at a breakfast at 10 Downing Street with orphans and young people made vulnerable by AIDS, Blair stressed his personal commitment to the battle to stem the tide of death in the developing world.

"Ignoring the issue of AIDS is simply not an option," he said.

"This is a tragedy that spans personal and global scales and it is appalling that life expectancy in some of the worst affected areas is falling back to pre-1950 levels."

"But this is not just about the millions of personal and family tragedies, appalling though these are. Already fragile economies are seeing their working age populations destroyed," he said.

"We cannot hope to tackle poverty on a global scale without addressing AIDS. Today's strategy will place Britain at the forefront of this response," he said.

Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown announced ?1.5 billion (US$2.8 billion) in AIDS funding in his spending review. Blair revealed that ?150 million would go toward helping children who have lost parents to AIDS.

He also announced that Britain's contribution to the Global Fund for HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria would double to ?150 million over three years -- a significant departure from the stance of the US government, which has committed only a small part of its US$15 billion AIDS budget to the Global Fund.

The new strategy sets out how Britain will work with affected countries, other donors and multilateral organizations.

"[It will] coordinate international efforts, close the ?6.6 billion funding gap, and improve health, education and human rights for the most vulnerable in developing countries," Blair said.

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