Bucking pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria will move ahead with a call for a fourth round of grant proposals despite budget shortfalls at the agency, The Boston Globe reports. U.S. and U.K. officials had urged the fund's board, meeting this week in Thailand, to postpone the fourth round of grants until the fund brings in more money. Fund officials also announced that about $623 million has been awarded to 71 programs in 50 countries through the agency's third round of grants. Because of a lack of money at the agency, $101 million of that amount was borrowed from anticipated future donations. Fund executive director Richard Feachem said the decision to borrow against future donations is not expected to become a regular practice at the agency.
AIDS activists praised the fund's board for its decision not to delay future grants. "We support any decision by the fund not to delay further rounds," said Mark Heywood of the South African group Treatment Action Campaign. "And we take that position from the standpoint of people who are seeing large numbers of members dying on a weekly basis, reflecting larger numbers of people in society who are dying on a weekly basis. There's no time for delay."