Parliament limits cuts in finance for fight against aids in developing countries

18 November 2009

Parliament limits cuts in finance for fight against aids in developing countries

The SP has joined parties from across the political spectrum in demanding that Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders make more money available for combating HIV/aids, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries. The parties, which included centre-right, centrist and small Christian parliamentary groups, share the view that large cuts in spending on organisations such as the Global Fund and UNAIDS, implemented by the minister, are unacceptable.

Recently the Multi-Party Initiative Against HIV/aids organised a conference in the national Senate on the results of the campaign against HIV/Aids in times of financial crisis. The meeting was co-organised with the NGOs Aidsfonds (Aids Fund), Stop Aids Now and SOA-Aids Netherlands. The Multi-Party Initiative is chaired by SP Member of Parliament and development spokesman Ewout Irrgang.

“We invited the director of the Global Fund for combating Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, and the director of UNAIDS (the UN organisation to combat Aids), to the conference," Irrgang explains. "They indicated that thanks to the billions in aid moneys the number of people who now have access to treatment for HIV/Aids has grown in the last six years from 400,000 to 4.5 million, a fourteen-fold increase. And a good example of successful aid. So it's unbelievable and unacceptable that Koenders wants to cut tens of millions of euros from the budget for combating the disease."

Koenders has in the meantime sent a letter to Parliament in which he responds to MPs' criticism by halving the extent of the cuts imposed. The reduction in financial support to UNAIDS remains intact, however, which is why the SP, Christian Democrats, two small Christian parties and the centrist liberals of D66 have jointly proposed an amendment to the budget in order further to reduce the cuts. The parties note that the money could be found from funds originally earmarked for budgetary support for Senegal, recently suspended by the minister.

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