January 25, 2013

Germany Commits €1 Billion to Global Fund, Earth Institute to train 1million health workers for sub-Saharan Africa

(Published 4.30pm, 25/01/13; Re-written 5.51pm, 25/01/13)
BACKGROUND -- Every year, the World Economic Forum gathers global decision-makers and thought leaders in Davos, a village in Switzerland, to meet, share ideas and highlight issues of worldwide importance.

Germany Commits One Billion Euro to the Global Fund

Yesterday at a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Federal Republic of Germany announced, through Dirk Niebel, its Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, that it will contribute EUR 1 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"We need to continue to devote hard work and determined efforts to halting the spread of HIV, malaria and other infectious diseases," said the German Minister. "We are close to turning the tide. I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of AIDS."

This commitment represents a continuation of Germany's pledge for annual contributions of EUR 200 million for a total of five years, through 2016.

Germany has already committed €400 million over the past two years to Global Fund, the Geneva-based financing agency that disburses funds to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

The news conference was attended by Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, who also added optimistically, “We can defeat AIDS, TB and malaria. We are at a critical moment for funding, and we need a big push this year.”

In reference to Germany's commitment, Dr. Dybul, who became Executive Director of the Global Fund on 21 January had this to say, "This commitment is a tremendous milestone. It means health workers and the people they serve in countries like Ethiopia, Myanmar and Haiti can make a huge difference. Everyone is grateful to Germany for its generosity and for its recognition that investing in global health benefits us all."

About 1,000 fund programmes provide HIV/AIDS medication for 4.2 million people, anti-TB treatment for 9.7 million people and 310 million insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria.

This has pursued a strong fight against the three diseases: HIV transmission rates are falling in nearly every region, including the worst affected countries. TB mortality has fallen by more than a third since the 1990s. Insecticide-treated nets have been widely distributed to protect millions of families from malaria.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was also present at the conference.

Earth Institute to train one million community health workers for sub-Saharan Africa

Meanwhile, also at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Earth Institute through its director - the US economist Jeffrey Sachs, has presented a plan to train one million community health workers for sub-Saharan Africa.

The campaign, supported by a $1 million donation from the drug company Novartis, envisions a substantial expansion and training of existing community health workers by 2015.

Mr Sachs said the plan was to attract further donations from software and telecoms companies, as well as investment by African governments themselves.

Funds raised will be used to buy smartphones and develop software to aid health worker communication in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in 10 children die before the age of five.

“If you go to villages in rural Africa you will find workers with no training and no supplies,” he said. “With Novartis we are trying to get this off the ground for a lot more money to come in.”

Compiled from: www.theglobalfund.org and www.irishtimes.com

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