Evian, 2 June 2003 — On the first day of the G8, French President Jacques Chirac announced that France would give $US 150 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). This money is in addition to pledges made by other G8 countries in the run up to the summit.
“It looks as though G8 countries are starting to be in the ballpark – finally, three years after Okinawa, we are talking about money that could make a difference. However, there must be a clear agreement on how this money will be used,” said Dr Bernard Pécoul of Médecins Sans Frontières. “Poor countries must not be forced to pay this money back into the Western economy by only buying drugs from the Western pharmaceutical industry.”
For example, a country that is required to purchase brand name drugs from Western industry will spend more than $US 1,500 a year for standard AIDS therapy. Equivalent generic drugs are available for $US 350 per patient per year. In other words, five times fewer people could be treated on the same budget. In order to ensure the lowest possible prices for urgently needed medicines, the G8 must support the full implementation of the World Trade Organization Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
Despite announcements made in Evian, the funding gap to fight these is diseases remains huge. Right now the Global Fund estimates a shortfall of $US 1.4 billion for 2003. By the end of 2004, $US 4.7 will be needed.
The sustainability of this funding still remains a question. “People with AIDS need lifelong treatment, and there are currently 6 million people who need the drugs urgently. These financial commitments need to be guaranteed in the long-term and right now there is no guarantee whatsoever that this will be the case” said MSF’s Ellen ‘t Hoen.