25 Feb 2009

Fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Pacific region - says new group

12:00 pm on 25 February 2009

Influential business, political and community leaders have joined forces to boost the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the Pacific region.

Australia's Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, launched the Pacific Friends of The Global Fund in Sydney.

The group aims to raise awareness for the regional work of the fund, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2002 to provide financing to combat the three diseases.

There are 350,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Pacific and half a million new cases of tuberculosis in Indonesia alone each year.

The group includes former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark.

Quentin Bryce, who is the new patron of Pacific Friends, says the fund channelled grants worth almost 1 billion US dollars into the region.

Pacific Friends was founded with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is supported by the Lowy Institute which will provide a base for the group.