Japan to give record 560 million dollars to fight diseases

Tokyo  - Japan on Friday vowed to contribute a record 560 million dollars to Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria starting in 2009.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced Japan's commitment at an international symposium held in Tokyo by the Global Fund to help fight the three diseases to improve the health of people, especially in Africa.

"Without the people's good health, Africa's economic and social development will remain far from reach," Fukuda said Friday.

Japan's offer shows its commitment as a host of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in the central city of Yokohama next week and the Group of Eight (G8) summit in the northern city of Toyako in July.

Fukuda said he hoped "this provision will make it possible for the Global Fund to further its activities and save more lives" as some 80 per cent of deaths caused by AIDS and malaria in the world are concentrated in sub-Saharan areas in Africa.

He stressed the need for "all-participatory" cooperation in efforts to eradicate three diseases to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Although Japan's fresh offer exceeds the past contribution of 500 million dollars Tokyo made between fiscal 2005 to 2007, the latest provision has no specific time period due to the nation's tight fiscal budget.

Since its establishment in 2002, the Global Fund has earmarked 10.8 billion dollars for 527 projects in 136 countries and has saved 2.5 million lives.

The three diseases are said to kill up to 5 million people each year. (dpa)