The news story that Chris Green heard on BBC about cuts in WHO funding
for HIV/AIDS control appears to have substance. Ten days ago, the following
abbreviated story appeared in the CDC Daily AIDS Summary, supposedly appearing
in the May 3 issue of Hindu. I searched the May 3 electronic issue of Hindu,
but found no reference to the abstracted story. Nevertheless, I have been
looking for additional stories on this important development, and would
certainly welcome clarification from WHO or others in the know. Given the
quick responsiveness of SEA-AIDS, we should be able to piece together what
is occurring in the next few days.
Source: CDC Daily AIDS Summary, 5/4/98
"Sharp Cut in WHO Aid to India Likely" Hindu Online (05/03/98) P. 14
A proposal to substantially reduce the allocation of financial resources
to India by the World Health Organization has been approved by the WHO
executive board and will go into effect if it is ratified by the World
Health Assembly in Geneva on May 11. The proposal would cut WHO funding
by about one-third to under $10 million starting in 2000. The proposed
cut would affect about 40 programs, including tuberculosis and HIV disease
control. Additionally, the proposal would similarly cut funding in other
South East Asian nations, as well as the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean,
and the Western Pacific region; Europe and Africa would benefit from the
proposal, with substantial increases in their funding. The WHO's South
East Asia region--which only has 10 countries but is one of the largest
in terms of population and disease burden--would be the most affected by
the proposal, which would cut funding for the region from $100 million
to $50 million.
Also to be noted, WHO yesterday confirmed the appointment of Dr. Gro
Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, as its new director
general. She is listed in the news accounts as "a physician and public
health specialist" who "pledged new links with industry" and promised to
streamline the "much-criticized agency." She also was quoted as saying
that the WHO "must become more effective, more accountable, more transparent
and more receptive to a changing world."
If the new budget austerity is true, she clearly will have her hands
full in assisting nations in Southeast Asia with the struggle to contain
HIV/AIDS, given the revenue shortfalls in both public and private sector.
In this regard, she will need all of our assistance.