US President Bush on Wednesday will pledge US$500 million to support global efforts to fight AIDS but critics said it was not enough to combat the ravages of the disease, particularly in Africa.
The money would be spread out over several years, starting with US$200 million this fiscal year. It would be targeted to programs aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus, which generally can be stopped with a regimen of drugs, the sources said.
The White House had no immediate comment.
AIDS advocacy groups said it was a good starting point, but urged Bush to do more.
"The fact is that the U.S. has ample resources to help fight global AIDS; yet, sadly, the president still seems unprepared to show real leadership," said Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance.
The alliance has urged the administration to commit US$2.5 billion as part of a global effort to treat AIDS patients, prevent its spread, care for orphans and train doctors. That would be about one-third of the US$7 billion to US$10 billion a year that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has estimated is needed to wage an effective global battle against AIDS.
The initial US$200 million that Bush will commit has already been approved by the Senate as part of an emergency spending package. Bush would provide the remaining US$300 million over fiscal years 2003 and 2004, sources said.
Annan championed the idea of a global fund to fight AIDS, which became a reality last year and handed out its first round of grants in April.
But pledges to date total only about US$2 billion, and even this money is expected to trickle in from donors over several years' time.
(China Daily June 19, 2002)