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Unitaid Logo.svg
Founded 2006
Founders France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom
Focus HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis
Area served
Method Grants
Key people
Lelio Marmora, Executive Director[1]
Celso Amorim, former Foreign Minister of Brazil and Chair of UNITAID[2]
Philippe Douste-Blazy, former French Foreign Minister and founding Chair of UNITAID[3]
$2.4 billion between 2007 and 2014,[4] 62% of which has been raised through a solidarity levy on airline tickets
Website www.unitaid.org

UNITAID is a global health initiative in great part financed by a solidarity levy on airline tickets. Established in 2006 by the governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom, it provides sustainable funding in order to tackle inefficiencies in markets for medicines, diagnostics and prevention for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in developing countries.[5]

Hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, the organization's principal strength is the negotiation of low prices for drugs and diagnostics on the basis of its strong financial means. UNITAID does not have its own programs for the distribution of medication but supports programs by its implementer organizations such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative,[6] The Global Fund, the Stop TB Partnership[7] of the WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières,[8] TB Alliance,[9] the Medicines for Malaria Venture[10] and others.

Due to a growing number of Member States (29 as of 2008) UNITAID's revenue has exceeded US2.4 billion through 2014[4] out of which at least 85% must be distributed to low-income countries.


The political actions towards the establishment of UNITAID had been preceded by two major reports on innovative financing: The Report of the Technical Group on Innovative Financing Mechanisms was formulated upon request by the Heads of State of Brazil, Chile, France and Spain and was published in September 2004; the Landau-report originated in a request by French President Jacques Chirac and was issued in December 2004. Both documents present various opportunities for innovative financing mechanisms while equally stressing the advantages (stability and predictability) of tax-based models.

After these documents had been published, the countries involved in the process tried to turn the international community's attention on innovative development financing. For instance, in February 2005 a joint statement was published by Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, and Spain offering ideas for the financing of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);[11] in September of the same year a declaration was announced at a UN-meeting on the MDGs in New York, asking for further examination of innovative sources of financing;[12] this again was followed by an international conference on "Solidarity and Globalization: innovative financing for development and against pandemics", held between February 28 and March 1, 2006 in Paris. At this conference, President Chirac announced his decision to create an international drug-purchase facility, to which France would allocate 90% of the output of the new French airline ticket solidarity tax as a pilot initiative to demonstrate the feasibility and relevance of international financing for development.[13]

In the follow-up of this conference, a pilot group on innovative financing of 44 countries was established, and Chile and France decided to introduce a solidarity tax on airline tickets, which entered into force on March 2006 and 1 July 2006, respectively. Finally, on 17 September 2006, UNITAID was founded by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom - while not all of them use air ticket taxation to fulfill their commitment to UNITAID,[14] they are still major contributors to UNITAID.[15]

Since then, more countries have joined the initiative, among them notably six[16] African countries that contribute to UNITAID's funds since February 2007.[17]

On 28 September 2009 UNITAID launched a global ‘Thank you’ campaign to highlight achievements in global health thanks to the steady support of its contributors.[18]

In March 2010 the MassiveGood initiative was unveiled; it collects funds for UNITAID by giving travelers the option to make a small donation each time they book a flight online. The US, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Spain participate in MassiveGood.[19]


UNITAID’s key source of income is through innovative financing: the international solidarity levy on airline tickets (the air ticket levy) that is currently collected in nine out of 29 UNITAID member countries. As of 2014, these countries are Cameroon, Chile, Congo, France, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger and the Republic of Korea. Norway allocates part of its tax on CO2 emissions.[20]

Air Ticket Levy

In implementing countries, the air ticket levy is a small fee attached to all departing flights. It is not paid by airlines nor applied to passengers in transit.[16] In Korea, it is called the "global poverty eradication contribution" and a contribution of 1,000 won is taken per international flight originating from Korea.[21] In France, it is called the "solidarity tax on airline tickets", and is charged to each passenger departing French soil. Domestic/intra-European Union economy class is charged €1 and international economy €4. For first and business class, the rate is €10 for domestic/intra-European Union and €40 for international.[22] On January 23, 2013, France’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation announced that the tax had collected 1 billion euros since its inception in 2006.[23]

In his speech to the 67th United Nations General Assembly in September 2012, French President François Hollande said that "success of UNITAID" has influenced France to push for a tax on financial transactions.[24] The July 2012 United Nations World Economic and Social Survey said that the air ticket levy is one of the few measures of "innovative financing" to have actually been implemented.[25]

UNITAID also collects donor money from governments like the United Kingdom, which contributes to UNITAID through "multi-year" commitments.[26]

Activities and achievements[edit]

UNITAID's primary goal is to ensure access to drugs and diagnostics against the most deadly global diseases - HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.[27] UNITAID's business model uses interventions in niche markets to expand supply, improve quality, stimulate development of new and better projects, and bring prices down.

UNITAID, through its international partners, focuses on three main objectives:

  • Ensuring affordable and sustainably priced medicines, diagnostics and prevention products, made available in sufficient quantities and with fast delivery to patients.
  • Increasing access to safe, effective products of assured quality.
  • Supporting development of products targeting niche markets and specific groups, such as children.[5]

In 2008, UNITAID began to investigate the creation of a "patent pool" to hold patents of AIDS drugs so that they could be manufactured cheaply for use in developing countries.[28] The creation of such a pool was authorized by UNITAID's board in December 2009,[29] and the pool opened for business in July 2010 as a separate entity.[30]

Despite its relatively short history, UNITAID has already set in motion various projects and has funded existing programs. According to UNITAID, some examples are:[31]

  • Achieved overall price reductions of 80% on key paediatric antiretrovirals since 2006. Started over 400,000 children on treatment.[32] (Partner: Clinton Health Access Initiative[33])
  • Over 1,000,000 curative and preventive tuberculosis treatments provided for children.[34] (Partners: Stop TB Partnership and the Global Drug Facility)
  • Over 200,000 artemisinin-based combination therapies against malaria provided.[35] (Partners: UNICEF and The Global Fund)
  • UNITAID is the principal funder of the World Health Organization Prequalification programme for HIV, TB and malaria medicines and diagnostics - 41 UNITAID priority medicines have been prequalified and have entered the market.[36]
  • Eight million pregnant women tested for HIV in high-burden countries. Over 1.3 million infants tested for HIV using early infant diagnostic tests. Over 850,000 anti-retroviral treatments provided to HIV-positive pregnant women.[37] (Partners: UNICEF and the Clinton Health Access Initiative)
  • In July 2012, funding for innovative "point-of-care" diagnostic technologies was announced by UNITAID. The Financial Times reports that the idea is to create incentives to develop new products and speed up market entry for manufacturers with tests that are in late-stage development.[38]

UNITAID also funds the EXPAND-TB project, which aims to expand and accelerate access to diagnostic tests for patients with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Partners include World Health Organization (WHO), Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Stop TB Partnership Global Laboratory Initiative (GLI) and Global Drug Facility (GDF).[39]


Due to its restricted scope of action, UNITAID has a concise inner structure:

  • The Chair of the Executive Board is Celso Amorim, former Foreign Minister of Brazil. UNITAID's founding Chair is Philippe Douste-Blazy, former Foreign Minister of France.
  • The Secretariat is located in Geneva and is hosted by the World Health Organization. The Secretariat is currently led by an Executive Director (Lelio Marmora[40]) and his Deputy (Philippe Duneton).
  • UNITAID is governed by a 12-member Executive Board, of whom 11 are voting and one (WHO) is non-voting. It decides on how the money is spent and which partnerships are being concluded; it also sets the main objectives for the future and decides on action plans. The Board includes six representatives each from Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom, one from Africa chosen by the African Union, one from Asia (South Korea), two from the civil society (NGOs and communities of people living with the diseases), one from the constituency of foundations, and one from the World Health Organization.[41]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://unitaid.org/en/resources/press-centre/releases/1377-mr-lelio-marmora-joins-unitaid-as-executive-director
  2. ^ http://unitaid.org/en/statements/1553-brazil-s-celso-amorim-elected-as-new-unitaid-chair
  3. ^ http://unitaid.org/en/statements/1558-unitaid-hails-founding-chair-phillipe-douste-blazy
  4. ^ a b UNITAID Audited Financial Report, page: 3 (December 2014): http://unitaid.org/images/budget/December_31_2014_Financial_Statements.pdf
  5. ^ a b Summary taken from Independent evaluation of UNITAID (December 2012): http://www.unitaid.eu/images/Five-year-evaluation/5YE%20Exec%20Summary-UNITAID%202012-12-03%2016h00.pdf
  6. ^ CHAI is no longer part of the Clinton Foundation: Source: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/our-work/by-initiative/clinton-health-access-initiative/about.html
  7. ^ http://www.stoptb.org/news/stories/2012/ns12_040.asp
  8. ^ http://www.msf-me.org/en/news/news-media/news-press-releases/unitaid-greenlights-proposal-to-implement-poc-cd4-tests-and-routine-viral-monitoring-1.html
  9. ^ http://www.tballiance.org/newscenter/view-brief.php?id=1058
  10. ^ http://www.mmv.org/newsroom/news/unitaid-awards-mmv-led-consortium-us-34-million
  11. ^ http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/IMG/pdf/Declaration_adoptee_le_11_fevrier_2005_a_Brasilia_par_les_membres_du_groupe_quadripartite_Bresil_Chili_Espagne_Allemagne_France.pdf
  12. ^ http://www.elysee.fr/elysee/elysee.fr/anglais/speeches_and_documents/2005/declaration_on_innovative_sources_of_financing_for_development-60th_anniversary_of_the_united_nations_new_york.31190.html
  13. ^ http://www.fondationchirac.eu/en/innovative-financements-for-development/
  14. ^ Innovative ways to fund development - UNITAID, united to treat those in need - Ministère des Affaires étrangères
  15. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/media/annual_report_2011/index.html
  16. ^ a b http://www.alma2015.org/sites/default/files/reference-materials/07.13.2012_air_ticket_levy.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/Nouvelle-traduction-Discours-de-M.html
  19. ^ Donald G. Mcneil Jr (2010-03-08). "Counting on Clicks to Finance the Battle Against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  20. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/media/annual_report_2011/index.html#fragment-4
  21. ^ http://oda2012.epart.net/eng/contents.do?contentsNo=159&menuNo=595
  22. ^ French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy https://www.formulaires.modernisation.gouv.fr/gf/getNotice.do?cerfaNotice=13134*06&cerfaFormulaire=13134*06
  23. ^ http://www.avionews.com/index.php?corpo=see_news_home.php&news_id=1149181&pagina_chiamante=index.php
  24. ^ French President Francois Hollande’s Speech to 67th UN General Assembly (English) http://www.voltairenet.org/article176046.html
  25. ^ http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wess/index.shtml
  26. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/media/annual_report_2011/index.html#fragment-9 and http://www.unitaid.eu/media/annual_report_2011/index.html#fragment-7
  27. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/sommaire.php3?lang=en
  28. ^ Donald G. Mcneil Jr (2008-07-08). "Effort for Lower Drug Prices Would Focus on Gaining Patents". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  29. ^ Executive Board (14–15 December 2009), "Resolution no. 5: Patent Pool Implementation Plan" (PDF), UNITAID 
  30. ^ Corrected factual error: http://www.medicinespatentpool.org/who-we-are2/background/
  31. ^ All data is retrieved from UNITAID's homepage at: http://www.unitaid.eu/EN-Valeur-ajoutee-Unitaid-FIAM.html
  32. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/resources/results/9-uncategorised/427-the-right-medicines-for-children-living-with-hiv
  33. ^ CHAI is no longer part of the Clinton Foundation: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/our-work/by-initiative/clinton-health-access-initiative/about.html
  34. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/resources/results/9-uncategorised/436-adapted-treatment-for-paediatric-tuberculosis
  35. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/resources/results/9-uncategorised/438-best-malaria-treatment-available-to-those-who-need-it-the-most
  36. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/resources/results/9-uncategorised/437-quality-assurance-for-all-unitaid-purchased-products
  37. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/resources/results/9-uncategorised/435-more-children-born-without-the-hiv-virus
  38. ^ http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ac625aee-3322-11e2-aa83-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Ij2bjs5I
  39. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/en/mdr-tb-diagnostics.html
  40. ^ Statement from the UNITAID Executive Board: http://unitaid.org/en/resources/press-centre/releases/1377-mr-lelio-marmora-joins-unitaid-as-executive-director
  41. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/media/annual_report_2011/index.html#fragment-23
  42. ^ http://www.unitaid.eu/en/UNITAID-donors.html

External links[edit]