August 20, 2007 / 2:28 PM / 12 years ago

Global Fund urges private sector to help fight AIDS

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa makes an address during the opening ceremony of the 8th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), in Colombo, Sri Lanka August 19, 2007. REUTERS/Buddhika Weerasinghe

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Governments cannot be expected to win the fight against AIDS alone and it is time the private sector and civil society dug deeper, the head of an organisation leading a worldwide programme to prevent the disease said.

Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, the executive director of The Global Fund, also wants to see donors make longer-term financial commitments to combat AIDS.

“The fight against AIDS cannot only be won by countries, it has to involve the civil societies, which has to involve the community affected by the disease. It has to get more and more involvement of the private sector,” Kazatchkine told reporters at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.

“We need more resources not only more resources, resources that are sustainable,” he added.

The Global Fund, launched by the Group of 8 industrialised nations, has raised $11 billion over the last four-and-a-half years for prevention programmes. It has committed $7.7 billion of that to programmes in 136 countries to combat AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“We need as an international community to find a way to have people ... in a position to pledge for longer periods of time,” Kazatchkine said.

The Asia-Pacific region has the world’s second largest number of people living with HIV after sub-Saharan Africa, where 25.8 million people are infected with the virus. More than 300,000 people die from AIDS in the region annually.

Conference host Sri Lanka has one of the lowest rates of HIV in Asia, with an estimated 5,000 infected people out of a population of around 20 million.

Neighbouring India, by comparison, has the world’s third highest HIV caseload after South Africa and Nigeria, with around 2.5 million people living with the virus.

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