UPDATE: US$14 billion pledged to fight AIDS, TB, malaria epidemics

UPDATE: US$14 billion pledged to fight AIDS, TB, malaria epidemics

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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LYON,France(AFP) — Governments, philanthropists and private firms pledged just over US$14 billion Thursday for a plan to save millions of lives, in a boost for the global fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The money was promised at a replenishment meeting in Lyon, France, of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, where host President Emmanuel Macron had exhorted countries to give as much as they can.

"These are not simply numbers, they are lives," the French leader told delegates.

"The funds that are being asked of us are not... charity. It is a decision to invest against injustice," he added, highlighting the disproportionate rate of infection and deaths from the three diseases in poor countries and among women and girls.

The fund had asked for US$14 billion, a sum it says will save 16 million lives between 2021 and 2023.

"We are targeting to halve by 2023 the annual death toll from these three epidemics and we are targeting to avert some 234 million infections," said the fund's chief executive Peter Sands.

Several delegates had expressed doubts that such a large sum could be generated as the focus switches away from diseases largely affecting poor countries, to other global problems.

"What we want to do is to make AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria disappear from the face of the Earth," Macron told delegates.

He complained that the resolve to fight the deadly trio has weakened in rich countries because fewer of their own are dying and treatment, particularly for HIV, is now readily available.

And he warned against "slackening".

According to the UN's World Health Organization, 770,000 people died of HIV-related causes last year, with 1.7 million new infections.

Tuberculosis, a high risk for HIV-positive people, claimed some 1.7 million lives in 2017, and malaria more than 430,000.

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