AFRICA – The World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have signed a cooperation and financing agreement to implement 10 strategic initiatives to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics and strengthen systems for health.

This new agreement, which will cover the 2021-2023 implementation period, aims to address some of the persistent challenges that impede progress against the three diseases and protect hard-won gains from new pandemics like COVID-19.

In 2019, a total of 1.4 million people died from tuberculosis and an estimated 409,000 people died from malaria. In 2020, 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. In 2019 an estimated 38 million people were living with HIV (including 1.8 million children), with a global HIV prevalence of 0.7% among adults. Around 19% of these people (7.1 million) do not know that they have the virus.

In 2019, 690,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses. This number has reduced by around 40% since the peak of 1.7 million in 2004 and 1.4 million in 2010.

The vast majority of people living with HIV are located in low- and middle- income countries. Of the 4,500 people who contract HIV every day in the world, 59% live in sub-Saharan Africa.

East and Southern Africa remain the regions most affected by HIV in the world, with 20.7 million people living with HIV and 730,000 new HIV infections in 2019.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimates that the pandemic could cause more than 500,000 additional AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa between 2020–2021 if treatment is completely disrupted.

In retrospect, Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for around one in three AIDS-related deaths.

In 2018, 10 million people developed TB, around 9% were living with HIV. More than four in ten people (44%) who are living with both HIV and TB are unaware of their health status and are not receiving treatment.

An estimated 417,000 people died from TB in the African region alone in 2016 where WHO reports that over 25% of TB deaths occur in the African Region.

The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a major health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against TB.

According to the latest World malaria report, released on 30 November 2020, there were 229 million cases of malaria in 2019 compared to 228 million cases in 2018.

The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 409,000 in 2019, compared with 411,000 deaths in 2018.

The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2019, the region was home to 94% of all malaria cases and deaths.

In 2019, 6 countries accounted for approximately half of all malaria deaths worldwide.

These were: Nigeria (23%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), United Republic of Tanzania (5%), Burkina Faso (4%), Mozambique (4%) and Niger (4% each).

Children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2019 they accounted for 67% (274 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.

Through the new agreement, the strategic initiatives seek to expand TB preventive treatment for people living with HIV in 9 countries across Africa; strengthen efforts to provide differentiated HIV service delivery and accelerate efforts to find people with TB missed by health systems.

Furthermore, the initiative will support 26 countries and territories to eliminate malaria by 2025; improve country data collection and use to develop evidence-informed policy; foster the rapid uptake of service delivery innovations with South to South Learning and improve quality of care.

In addition to this, rapid uptake of procurement and supply chain management innovation will be encouraged as well as an increase in program sustainability, facilitating the transition to domestic financing and improving program efficiency.

WHO and the Global Fund have a long and successful partnership working together to scale up HIV, TB and malaria interventions and strengthen health systems in many countries.

Through focused efforts and catalytic investments, this collaboration has contributed to significantly reduce the disease burdens of HIV, TB and malaria worldwide, saving millions of lives since 2002.

This agreement supports countries to develop more effective responses to the HIV, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics and build the resilient health systems they need to reach the most vulnerable,” said Dr Mubashar Sheikh, Director, Deputy Director-General’s Office, WHO.