Guyana has received a US$17.2 million grant from the Global Fund and Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy says the money will be used to combat HIV and tuberculosis.

Guyana is among 94 countries who have received grants from the fund to fight HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria with the total worth of the grants being some US$2.75 billion to be utilised by the countries over the next two years.

A release from the fund said it is the eighth time its board has approved new proposals to support programmes fighting the three diseases and “it is the largest round in the history of the organization, well over twice the size of any previous round.”

The release said that the decision was made in New Delhi over the weekend, where the Global Fund held its board meeting while adding that the fund’s overall portfolio is now US$14.4 billion, utilised in 140 countries over the past few years.

According to Minister Ramsammy, while Guyana in its proposal had requested US$34 million to fight all three diseases, it only received money for HIV and TB with no money being allotted to fight malaria in Guyana.

He said US$10.1 million of the grant will be used for the health system strengthening programme in the area of HIV and the remaining sum will be used to fight TB. While the country did not receive the sum requested, the minister said that he is still grateful for the money as it would go a far way in the fight against the two diseases.

This is the fifth time Guyana has received money from the Global Fund, out of its eight funding rounds. Guyana received its largest grant in round three, when US$20.2 million was given to fight HIV. In three other rounds, Guyana received a total of US$6.9M to fight malaria and TB. Dr Ramsammy said that Guyana did not submitted proposals in the other funding rounds.

Meanwhile, according to Rajat Gupta, Chair of the Global Fund Board: “These new resources will significantly help the world in achieving global targets such as universal access to AIDS treatment and prevention, and cutting the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria by half by 2015.” And the fund’s Executive Director, Michel Kazatchkine feels that due to the “exceptional ex-pression of increased demand” there is need for “renewed resource mobilisation effort.” “We have a fantastic message to bring back to the rich nations of the world: Programmes to fight these three diseases save lives, reduce disease burdens, and strengthen health systems. We are asking you for resources for an effective way to reduce the gap between rich and poor and build a better and safer world,” he was quoted as saying in the release.

The release said that of the approved proposals, the majority of resources go to malaria programmes which account for 51%. Proposals for AIDS and tuberculosis account for 38% percent and 11% respectively. It was further revealed that 90% of the new approved grants are for low-income countries, with the majority of resources– 77%–for Africa and the Middle East. Asia and the Western Pacific received 14%, Latin America and the Caribbean 6% and Eastern Europe and Central Asia 6%.

The Global Fund’s next funding round will be approved in November 2009. The fund describes itself as “a unique global public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”

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