AIDS donation ‘must get value for money’

IRELAND needs to get “value for money” in the €100 million it donates to HIV and AIDS projects worldwide, the head of Irish Aid has warned.

Speaking at the launch of a major report on World Disasters, aid chief Ronan Murphy warned it was important Ireland ensured its money was “well spent”.

Irish Aid’s director general said he was open to the idea of public private partnerships with the likes of billionaire businessmen Bill Gates to ensure Irish money was spent well.

“We have to look for value for money, we really do in whatever we do. If we’re going to spend what we do at the moment, €100m a year on HIV and AIDS, we’ve got to ensure that that money is well spent. I certainly think we should be open to smart money, smart projects, public private partnerships with Gates and people like that.”

A Red Cross report yesterday revealed up to 7,000 people a day worldwide are contracting HIV, which is often a “death sentence” in developing countries. Man-made disasters like war and natural disasters were furthering the epidemic. Disruption of medicine supplies, malnutrition, rape in conflict zones and the increase of sex workers in impoverished countries furthered the epidemic.

Some 405 world disasters occurred in 2007, including earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, windstorms and droughts.

Irish Red Cross chairman David Andrews said HIV was a “disaster that keeps on killing”. “Day after day, families are destroyed, economies wiped out and communities crushed as economies disintegrate, parents die and children are born with the disease.”

Among countries with high rates of HIV, around half were affected by major conflicts between 2002 and 2005, with mass rape and forced displacement all increasing HIV infection.

However, the Red Cross report found funds for HIV/AIDS projects often failed to reach those most in need because of bureaucracy or lack of co-ordination. There was a need for country donors to insist on “responsible and transparent financial procedures”.

* www.redcross.ie


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