INTERVIEW-G20 should join 'circle of donors', Global Fund says

BALI, Indonesia, Aug 11 (Reuters) - China and other emerging powers should become bigger aid donors because the global financial crisis may reduce funds to fight some of the world's worst diseases, a senior Global Fund official said on Tuesday.

Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, said in an interview that nations such as China, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa may now be in a position to offer a hand to poorer countries that need help.

"As these countries come in and play more political leadership roles, they have to enter into the global solidarity effort when it comes to health," Kazatchkine told Reuters on the sidelines of a regional HIV/AIDS conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The Global Fund received US$10 billion in pledges from G8 group of countries to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria for the years 2008 to 2010.

It will soon need to lobby donor nations for money for the next three-year cycle, 2011 to 2013, the last lap before the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

All 192 U.N. member states have agreed to meet a string of developmental goals by 2015, including reducing poverty, child mortality and fighting epidemics like HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

Kazatchkine told the conference on Monday he was concerned the global financial crisis would affect health spending in developing nations as well as pledges from rich countries.

"The financial crisis is hitting all of us and Asia is no exception. The Global Fund will be facing major challenges when it comes to our (getting) funding," he said.

"But it can't be an excuse to reduce spending because AIDS is not in recession in any part of the world."


Kazatchkine urged countries that are becoming richer, such as China and South Korea, to become donor nations.

"I really think it is time for the G20, which is 85 percent of the world's economy, to come into the circle of donors. The Global Fund has to expand. China is an obvious example, I know South Korea is quite prepared to come in as a donor," he said.

Although China was a huge recipient of the fund, Kazatchkine said that was no barrier to becoming a donor.

"We can front loan money and the country can commit to reimburse that money over a number of years," he said, adding more resources were needed to help control these three epidemics.

By the end of 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people were living with HIV, of whom 2.1 million were children, according to the World Health Organisation. Although 4 million people have drugs to control the HIV virus, they make up only 30 percent of the total number of people needing treatment.

Although regular TB is curable, it still killed 1.6 million people in 2005. As for malaria, even though it is preventable and curable, there were 247 million cases of the disease in 2006, causing nearly one million deaths, mostly among African children.

Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Bill Tarrant