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Global fund and big business partner against AIDS

[ 2012-03-26 15:59]     字号 [] [] []  
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As donor countries tighten budgets to reduce debt, organizations like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria are feeling the effects. The fund announced last November it would not make any new grants until 2014. A recent meeting in Washington brought together US and fund officials, NGOs and big business to discuss the fund's future.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a 10-year-old public / private partnership. It accepts donations from governments, charity groups and major corporations. It has provided nearly $23 billion in grants for more than 1,000 programs in 150 countries.

Coca-Cola and energy producer Chevron were among the major corporations taking part in the March 20th panel meeting in Washington, DC. Chevron was named the first Global Fund Corporate Champion. It invested $30 million for the three-year period between 2008 and 2011 and has pledged another $25 million through 2013.

Matt Lonner is manager of Chevron's Global Partnerships Programs. "Our involvement in AIDS, in particular, goes back 25 years. We're a San Francisco-headquartered company. So we felt this issue acutely at the outset, not only in our home town, but also other areas we operated in Africa and Angola, where we've operated for over 75 years."

Some of the first AIDS cases in the United States were reported in San Francisco more than 30 years ago.

Lonner said for Chevron, good health is good business.

"It wasn't just an issue that's personal, but it's certainly a business issue as well. It affects our employees, our workforce, their families. So we have a very close connection to some of these most intractable diseases," he said.

Chevron nearly has 60,000 employees worldwide.

The cancellation of the funding cycle known as Round 11 has raised concerns among healthcare and treatment providers and patients. The worldwide recession struck just as major advancements had been made using antiretroviral therapy as a prevention method. Also, there was encouraging news regarding vaccine research and microbicides.

"I think that the global economy's obviously affected funding from donor governments, who obviously have competing priorities, but we think these pandemics are important ones."

Lonner says contributions from corporations like Chevron and Coca-Cola could set an example in tough economic times.

"The private sector I believe brings credibility to these issues. When national governments see the private sector, which is inherently bottom line-oriented, make these kind of investments I would hope that it encourages national governments to take the same step and make the commitments to address issues in their own countries and in countries in need. The private sector collectively can make a significant impact, but still can't come close to touching the scale of national governments," he said.

When the global recession began, those providing treatment and prevention for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria were told to be more efficient, to do more with less.

The Chevron official says it's important for programs to be innovative.

"Programs like our workplace wellness program, train the trainer programs – these are not high cost programs. But they do require boots on the ground. You have to do more than write a check. You have to mobilize and activate the kind of human capital in communities where we operate. That's why we tend to focus our social investments in communities where we have a presence. We have very talented medical professionals that run our own health clinics for our employees that are actively involved in helping to partner with local organizations to build capacity," he said.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has formed a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide antiretroviral treatment in developing countries. Coke is also working with RED, a campaign to raise money for health programs through the sale of certain brand name items. It's estimated the campaign has raised nearly $200 million for global fund programs in Africa.

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(来源:VOA 编辑:Rosy)