Philippe Douste-Blazy, former French foreign minister and head of UNITAID, announced recently that he is in talks with online travel industry CEOs to allow air travelers booking online to make a $2 per-flight donation to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria efforts worldwide, the Financial Times reports. The global financial crisis has placed some governments' foreign aid budgets "under pressure," and the United Nations is "turning to private industry and individuals to finance the battle against" the three diseases, according to the Times.

According to Douste-Blazy, he has contacted CEOs from top online travel companies and received a positive response. According to the Times, the companies Travelport and Amadeus confirmed that they are in talks with UNITAID, and a United Kingdom spokesperson for Travelport said that the company had its most recent talks with the agency last week. The spokesperson added that the company is working on prototypes for online donations. Amadeus said that it is working with UNITAID and others to develop systems for micro-contributions that could be adopted by other industries.

According to the Times, UNITAID aims to raise more than $1 billion annually for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria efforts. It has raised $600 million during the past two years through a tax on airline tickets implemented by one dozen participating countries. One flight with 300 passengers could raise enough funds to provide 60 HIV-positive children with treatment for one year, the Times reports (Morris, Financial Times, 3/11).

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