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Bush administration urges Global Fund to delay new grants

Bush administration urges Global Fund to delay new grants

The Bush administration this week urged board members of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to delay the distribution of a fifth round of grants because of funding shortfalls, but attendees of the Global Fund's board meeting in Tanzania say grants will likely be announced anyway, The New York Times reports. In order to carry out its work for 2005, the Global Fund needs at least $2.5 billion in funding but has received pledges for only $1.6 billion. Fund officials estimate that without new donations to the organization, it will be able to issue only about $500 million in new grants for 2005 after meeting its financial obligations for multiyear grants already announced. Bush administration officials urged the funding body to delay new grants for six to 12 months because of the limited amount of money available and because some countries, like Kenya, have been slow to spend the funds they've already received. U.S. embassies in foreign countries also have reportedly contacted Global Fund board members in those nations to urge them to support postponing new grants. Attendees at the Global Fund's board meeting say that despite the U.S. pressure, it's likely they'll vote to issue new grants for 2005. Helene Rossert Blavier, a French physician who serves on the board, says a new round of grants is "vital" to continue combating AIDS in developing nations. Other AIDS advocates say the U.S. position will "cost lives" and "take pressure off" Western nations to increase their donations to the Global Fund this year.

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