Philippe Douste-Blazy, UN special advisor said Wednesday that a tax on airline tickets in 15 countries has generated some $2 billion since 2006 to fight three major diseases in developing countries.
The former French foreign minister who now chairs UNITAID, the UN's drug purchase facility funded by a small surcharge on airline fees, said it was "painless," and "a way to find new sources of finance for development."
UNITAID, which is hosted by the World Health Organization, operates programs to fight against the HIV/Aids, malaria, and tuberculosis.
"With the financial crisis we are going to see a decline of ODA (official development aid)," noted Douste-Blazy in a discussion with reporters in Washington.
The G20 meet in November, he said, "is the opportunity to have 2011 as the year of innovative financing" notably assessing how a pioneer effort to raise funds through the taxation of financial transactions.
According to his calculations, a simple tax of 0.05 percent on foreign exchange transactions between banks could yield as much as $120 billion per year. A variable tobacco tax ranging from one to five cents a pack could raise $8 billion, he said.
Douste-Blazy also said he hopes on a visit to China in June he could persuade the growing Asian giant to join UNITAID -- with 200 million tickets purchased each year, and rising, funding for the medical program could rise dramatically.