New $500m package to help Africa fight Aids

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The Independent Online

The World Bank unveiled a $500m (£350m) package yesterday to help fight the HIV/Aids epidemic in Africa, where 18 million people have been killed by the disease.

The money, which comes in the form of grants and zero-interest loans, takes to $1bn the amount of money made available by the bank to the continent in the past year. The money will be shared by between 12 and 15 countries and is in addition to the loan that benefited a dozen nations last year. The cash will be made up of $315m in grants and $185m in 10-year zero-interest loans.

Callisto Madavo, the bank's vice-president, said the money would produce "visible results in the coming years", adding: "This supports the growing determination of African leaders to confront this devastating epidemic." The project is intended to reduce HIV transmission among high-risk groups to 3 per cent by 2006 and boost economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa, which is falling by between 0.5 and 1.2 per cent a year because of Aids.

A spokesman for the charity Christian Aid described the package as "pretty pathetic".