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Pitching for Malaria Funds, Chambers Admits Kiosk Skepticism, Cites Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 -- Back in September, UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe told Inner City Press of "reforms" of the Global Funds on Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis, so it will have "credibility again."

  On Monday, UN malaria envoy Ray Chambers held a press conference, along with Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership by video from Geneva, to pitch for a re-capitalization of the Global Fund.

   Inner City Press asked Chambers about criticism by of the Global Fund by Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, in particular of the so-called Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria, a $460 million program that he says has no controls on who gets the medicines.

   Chambers praised Tren, and said he initially shared the skepticism, that "kiosk owners" wouldn't pass the subsidies along to their customers. But he said there are studies that this is not happened.

   Inner City Press after thanking him and Dr. Nafo-Traore, on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access, for the briefing went on to ask specifically about the Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  Dr. Nafo-Traore said the two countries represent 40% of malaria cases. Chambers said there is a map of the DRC, "state by state," how the funds would be used. And in North Kivu?

   Inner City Press moments later asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky three questions about North Kivu, none of which got answered. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations with a $1.6 billion MONUSCO mission has no answers -- video here -- but the Global Fund does? Chambers, it must be said, has shown determination.

   Chambers twice used the example of Sri Lanka, saying that malaria was almost wiped out and then got forgotten for other priorities. As the UN has belatedly had to acknowledge, some 40,000 civilians were killed in Northern Sri Lanka in 2009.

   In this same Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan Army, depicted in the UN's report as engaged in war crimes, was allowed to screen a war crimes denial film sponsored by UNCA. And so, FUNCA is born. Watch this site.

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