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Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK
Rich nations promise health cash aid
African child
Each year millions die globally from Aids, TB and malaria
Leaders of the world's richest countries are set to create a $1bn global health fund to fight TB, malaria and Aids in developing countries.

Although world trade, the economy and reform of the financial institutes are top of the agenda at the G8 summit in Genoa, the world leaders, including South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, discussed poverty reduction and the global health fund.

TB, malaria and Aids have been pinpointed as the major global health threats, killing millions each year.

In the poorest countries, the poor are spending much more on their healthcare than people who are better off

Clare Short

Expensive drugs

In the developing countries, the leading causes of death of women aged between 15 and 44 are: TB - 9%; war -3%; HIV - 3% and heart disease 3%.

Treatments for the diseases are costly and draining on the already fragile economies.

Each year millions die because of a lack of cash for drugs.

Although some pharmaceutical companies are supplying cheaper alternatives, life saving drugs are still out of the reach of many in areas like sub-Saharan.

Medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) say doctors in Kenya advise their Aids patients " to save up for their funerals" rather than drugs, which cost too much.

Malarial mosquito
Malaria can be beaten with effective , but costly drugs
Although there have been many initiatives to tackle the global health this is a massive initiative by the world's richest nations.

But this could be seen as a mere drop in the ocean, as some experts have said a global fund of $10bn a year is needed to have any impact at all on health.

Whether the money will be used to provide drugs for those already suffering from disease, to prevent disease, or to find effective vaccines is not yet clear.

But it could be that the world leaders decide to divide the cash up amongst all three.

Fighting disease

Britain has already pledged its $2000m contribution.

Clare Short, the UK International Development Secretary announced the five-year pledge at an International Aids conference in June.

She said she would like to see the Global Fund modelled on the success of GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunology, which had increased the availability and reduced the price of vaccines in the poorest countries.

She said: "We believe that the Global Health Fund can bring down the price and increase the supply of drugs and commodities for TB, HIV/Aids and malaria and also encourage the research for new drugs."

But she stressed that the cash should not be used for the development of health care systems in the poorer nations.

"In the poorest countries, the poor are spending much more on their healthcare than people who are better off. Enormous proportions of their income is being wasted on ineffective treatments, bad drugs and poor quality healthcare."

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20 Jul 01 | Health
World's biggest health threats
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