BANGKOK -- Addressing a major funding gap, the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation said it will give a $50 million grant to the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Separately, doctors at the XV International AIDS Conference in
Thailand urged pharmaceutical companies to provide at least two
years of care for patients who volunteer for drug studies after
the studies end.
The new grant by the foundation of software entrepreneur Bill
Gates boosts its total giving to the Global Fund to date to $150
Helene Gayle, head of the Gates Foundation AIDS programs, called
on donors around the world to increase their commitments to the
The Geneva-based Global Fund, a partnership of governments, the
private sector and other groups, says it lags far behind the
fund-raising targets it must meet to stay on course.
Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, said the
Gates Foundation gift comes at a critical moment and "will help
leverage further funds from additional donors." The fund supports
300 projects in 130 countries.
Prior to the new Gates grant, Global fund donors had committed
$3.4 billion to the Global Fund through the end of 2004, the
Gates Foundation said. Current pledges for 2005 to 2008 total
just $2 billion -- far short of the $3.6 billion that the Global
Fund says it needs in 2005 alone.
Dr. Gayle, in announcing the Gates Foundation's new grant, nudged
the U.S. government -- already the Global Fund's largest single
donor -- to boost its contributions as much as the law allows.
U.S. law limits the country's contribution to no more than
one-third of the total annual contributions to the Global Fund,
or about $550 million for 2004.
In a statement, Tommy Thompson, U.S. Secretary of Health and
Human Services, who also chairs the Global Fund, praised the
Gates gift as "a real boost." Mr. Thompson didn't attend this
year's AIDS Conference. Protests at the conference two years ago
in Barcelona, Spain were vehement. On Wednesday, demonstrators
shouted down the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Randall Tobias,
who came to Bangkok representing the Bush administration. The
protesters demanded greater U.S. support for the Global Fund, and
the fulfillment of billions of dollars in promised support to
The AIDS conference, which was to close today, has focused on
issues of access to treatment and care in Africa, Asia and
throughout the developing world. Among many ethical issues is
what happens to volunteers for big drug company studies in Asia
and Africa after the studies are over.
The International AIDS Society, the co-sponsor of the Bangkok
conference, late yesterday issued guidelines suggesting
pharmaceutical companies agree to provide a minimum of two years
of continuing care after the end of a clinical trial. That care
could include supplies of a new treatment, or standard care as
prescribed by the World Health Organization treatment guidelines.
"Two years is a floor, not a ceiling," said Robert L. Mallett,
senior vice president of corporate affairs at Pfizer Inc., which
is among companies supporting the guidelines. "Some companies
have decided to do more," he said adding that Pfizer will support
the care of its study volunteers for "as long as a patient
continues to benefit, or until something better comes along."
Write to Marilyn Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org