‘Lives at risk’ due to global fund delay

Delaying an increase in the UK’s contribution to a troubled disease-fighting fund until next year could cost lives in poor countries, MPs said yesterday.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has promised a significant boost to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Up to double the present commitment of £384 million by 2015 is being considered but has been put on hold while claims of reports of losses and poor monitoring are investigated.

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The influential Commons international development committee said Britain must do everything possible to lead the way in restoring faith in the much-lauded programme.

“We are concerned at the continuing delay in providing these funds,” it said. “A further delay until 2013, as indicated by the Secretary of State, may put the lives of people in developing countries at risk.”

The committee said the fund was making “good progress” in reforming its structures and monitoring and that its new general manager had proved impressive. “We strongly urge the Department [for International Development] to do all possible to commit funds earlier by prioritising its assessment of the Global Fund,” it concluded.

Next month’s G20 meeting in Mexico was a good opportunity to encourage other key donors to re-engage by announcing a funding boost, the MPs said, so long as taxpayers’ money was safeguarded.