SWITZERLAND – The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in 2020, according to a new report released by the Global Fund.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC said a key lesson from the report is the urgent need for more COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries to alleviate pressure on their health systems.

“The big issue is that these diseases – pandemics of the past for us – are linked to struggling health systems in countries very close to us,” Professor Crabb, who is Chair of The Pacific Friends of Global Health and the Australian Global Health Alliance, Australia’s peak body for global health organisations, told The Australian.

The Results Report shows that while some progress was made, key programmatic results have declined for the first time in the history of the Global Fund.

The report reveals the heavy toll the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the fight against TB globally and in the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests declined by 19 per cent, with those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registering a drop of 37 per cent.

The number of HIV-positive TB patients on antiretroviral treatment as well as TB treatment fell by 16 per cent.

According to The Global Fund, the number of people getting treatment for TB dropped last year by nearly 200,000 in Indonesia, 140,000 in the Philippines and 20,000 in Myanmar.

Executive Director of the Global Fund, Peter Sands, said despite the heavy toll COVID-19 has taken, “the pandemic presents us with a chance to build a better, more equitable and healthier world”.

Together, we have changed the trajectory of HIV, TB and malaria and we are determined to continue to do so,” Mr Sands said.

If we continue to innovate and collaborate at global, national and local levels we can end HIV, TB and malaria, beat COVID-19 and build a much stronger foundation for pandemic preparedness and response.”

The Global Fund is a worldwide movement to defeat HIV, TB and malaria and ensure a healthier, safer, more equitable future for all.

Since its inception in 2002, the Global Fund partnership has saved 44 million lives. The number of deaths caused by AIDS, TB and malaria decreased by 46 per cent in countries where the Global Fund invests.

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