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Japan has proposed that the Group of Eight nations jointly establish a $100 million fund to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases when they meet for their July 21-23 summit in Okinawa, G8 sources said Thursday.

Japan is also working toward an agreement to set up an expert task force on infectious diseases at the summit.

The Okinawa meeting will gather leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia.

The G8 countries have started negotiating the details of the fund, which is aimed mainly at assisting work by nongovernmental organizations, the sources said.

Japan is proposing that the G8 nations be the main contributors to the fund. Under the proposal, those nations would also call for private-sector financial cooperation and establish a G8 secretariat within an existing international organization.

The fund will help facilitate the dispensation of aid to recipient countries by improving efficiency and integrating G8 measures on infectious diseases, the sources said.

The fund would also facilitate and spread preventative measures by strengthening the ties between NGOs and the private sector.

At previous summits, the G8 has concentrated on assisting the World Health Organization and other international bodies, leaving no real mechanism for international cooperation with NGOs.

But Japan has found it necessary to focus on working with NGOs, which are increasingly playing key roles in dealing with AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases that continue to spread.

“We can’t prevent the spread only through measures by international organizations,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said in Tokyo.

The proposed international task force will be led by the G8 countries and will involve government experts, medical personnel, NGOs, and pharmaceutical and other private firms, the sources said.

Japan wants the group to hold its first meeting this year and work out an action plan to prevent the spread of diseases, the sources said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, poor coordination between public and private health groups is not uncommon. Examples include the lack of transportation to deliver pharmaceutical and other forms of assistance to NGOs working in problem areas.

According to the latest U.N. statistics, infectious diseases have been spreading rapidly, mainly in Africa and Asia.

AIDS patients reached 33.6 million at the end of 1999, with 5.6 million people infected that year.

The incidence of malaria and tuberculosis, the major cause of death in AIDS patients, are also rising sharply.