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posted 04/30/03

Contact: Mariellen Gallagher
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Developing Countries Count on Columbia University and Glaser Progress Foundation to Utilize Millions from Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria

(APRIL 28, 2003, NEW YORK) As The Global Fund monies to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are disbursed in Geneva this month, seven developing countries receiving significant funding will have utilized the assistance of a fledgling Columbia University program to develop their successful proposals.

The Access Project for the Global Fund, located at Columbia University's Center for Global Health and Economic Development, has been working with leaders in Africa and the Caribbean to prepare comprehensive proposals for the Global Fund. Global Fund support is available for programs designed and implemented by developing countries themselves. The Access Project offers hands-on strategic planning to developing country governments and organizations applying for funding, helping them to evaluate existing programs, identify the most successful models, and to monitor implementation of new programs when these are funded.

"The value of the Access Project's contribution is evident in the approvals of the proposals supported," said Anil Soni, advisor to the Executive Director of the Global Fund. These include (USD) $ 11 million for Ethiopia, $24 million for Haiti, $42 million for Malawi, $28 million for Nigeria , and $26 million for Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa in just the first round.

"The Access Project forms a three way partnership with the Global Fund and countries in need of financial assistance to fight these horrific diseases," said Rob Glaser, trustee of the Glaser Progress Foundation, which supports the Access Project. "By helping countries develop proposals, implement projects and publicize success stories, the Access Project plays a meaningful role in ensuring the effectiveness of the Global Fund, our best hope for millions of people."

In addition to Haiti, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, the Center has also worked with Angola and Namibia. Increasingly, the Access Project team is working with countries to help them utilize funds effectively, develop strategic implementation plans, and establish processes for effective monitoring and evaluation. In Nigeria, for instance, a small anti-retroviral therapy pilot program plans to expand to cover thousands of patients.

"The efficient use of international funds demands a powerful political commitment from governments at the highest levels," said Allan Rosenfield, Dean of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. "The Access Project was able to work with country leaders to develop solid proposals."

Almost every country that worked with Columbia University's Access Project received a grant from the Global Fund, compared to only 50% of submitted proposals overall. Following the second round of distributions, Malawi, an Access Project client, received the largest grant at what may prove to be $300 million over five years.

The Global Fund is a multi-billion dollar international financing mechanism intended to fight the devastation of communicable diseases by dramatically increasing the availability of funding for effective local health initiatives. About $3.4 billion has been pledged to the Fund through 2008. President George Bush surprised the world in January by proposing a $1 billion pledge toward the Fund as part of his $15 billion State of the Union pledge to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

"With the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush recognizes that he must show the world what America stands for as well as what it stands against," says Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs. "It's the notion of the need to deploy weapons of mass salvation, together with weapons of mass destruction." Sachs and other leaders in the fight against AIDS have been urging the US to pledge more to the Global Fund.

"The Access Project insists on a transparent and accountable process that includes bringing many groups within each country together to work on similar problems," says Josh Ruxin, assistant clinical professor of public health and director of the Access Project. "Generating political commitment at the highest levels to engage every part of the population in fighting AIDS, TB and malaria takes initial energy, but leads to better proposals and ultimately to more sustainable and effective programs. These local initiatives are well planned and well managed."

$450,000 in Glaser Progress Foundation Support Behind Access Project Success

The Access Project is supported during the next six months through a $450,000 grant from the Glaser Progress Foundation. Glaser wants to spread the word that the Global Fund is a critical vehicle for fighting AIDS, TB and Malaria worldwide. The Foundation is committed to ensuring that funds are spent efficiently and effectively and that success in the field translates into increased donor commitments to the Global Fund.

Consistent with this message, the next phase of the project, now underway, will offer assistance to countries beginning to implement and monitor Global Fund-financed programs.

The Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED) is a joint venture of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Earth Institute that focuses on mobilizing global health programs to aid resource-poor countries in addressing poverty and the burden of disease.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.