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Government commitment to AIDS fund: very little, very late.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australian Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson 18 February 2004 MEDIA RELEASE 04/093

Government commitment to AIDS fund - very little, very late

The Australian Democrats welcome today’s belated decision by the Government to contribute $25 million to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but are concerned that the amount pledged by the Government is pitiful.

Democrats’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said the Government’s commitment fell well short of expectations and should be increased.

“The amount pledged by the Government is paltry,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“With 8,000 people dying of AIDS every single day, it is unthinkable that the Government has adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude for so long.

“The AIDS pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge for the international community and we must work together to combat it. A combined global effort is crucial.”

A recent report released by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization indicated that: · 42 million people around the world are infected with HIV; · 8,000 people die of AIDS-related illnesses every day; · 14,000 new HIV infections occur every day; · 13.2 million children are now orphans as a result of the AIDS virus; and, · 95% of people with AIDS live in the world’s poorest countries.

“The Global Fund plays a crucial role in helping to combat this deadly disease. Already, $224 million has been disbursed to more than 60 countries, while grants totalling $3 billion have been approved for 121 of the world’s worst-affected countries.

“The Democrats have long called on the Australian Government to make a contribution to the Global Fund. Now we call on it to give more,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

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