The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB) approved on Thursday the fifth round of funding proposals to combat the three diseases.
The decision was made after a two-day, closed-door meeting of the Global Fund's Board in Arusha, Tanzania. Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania attended the meeting that opened on Wednesday.
Previously, there had been uncertainty about the fifth round of funding, with some donors adopting a hard-line stance towards continued funding. Some of the donors favoured the establishment of bilateral arrangements with the countries the Global Fund supports.
An officer with the Global Fund, Jon Liden, said the applications for funding would be received in March and would be considered for approval by the board in September.
The chairman of the Global Fund Board, Tommy Thompson, who is also the US secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, announced the fifth round of funding, saying the money would deliver critical aid in the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
"Today's unanimous decision reflects the Board's unwavering commitment to turning the tide against these diseases and ensuring the long-term viability and accountability of the Global Fund," he said. "I applaud all Board members for reaching a consensus that provides hope for the suffering while affirming the Fund's need to proceed with responsibility and fiscal prudence."
Grant proposals to the Global Fund are evaluated by an independent technical review panel and those meeting the requirements, are then recommended to the Board for funding.
The Global Fund Board approves two-year programmes, with an option to renew funding for another three years if the project achieves the targeted results.
Since its creation in January 2002, the Global Fund has committed US $3 billion in two-year grants to 128 countries.
"A new round of proposals will ensure that the Global Fund continues to expand its funding," said Helene Rossert-Blavier, the vice-chair of the Board and executive director of the French non-governmental organisation, AIDES.
She added that the money would enable the Global Fund to fulfil the hopes of millions of people around the world "by providing more people with AIDS, TB and malaria treatment and increase prevention efforts".
The approval of the funding proposals for 2005 is expected to meet the year's requirements of $2.4 billion, with $1.4 billion needed for the renewals of existing grants. Regardless of the timing of new grants, an estimated $2.7 billion would be additionally required for renewals after 2005.
"The Global Fund is three-years old and as it moves forward, we face the dual challenge of making current grants work as quickly and effectively as possible and raising more money to meet the urgent need to scale up prevention and treatment in countries with acute needs," Richard Feachem, the Global Fund's executive director, said. "Today's decision by the Board shows its commitment to meet these challenges."