USA – Governments, businesses, and foundations have pledged US$14.2 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria at a fundraising event hosted by the US, short of the fund’s US$18 billion goal.
It is the highest ever “replenishment” goal set by the organization and comes amid rising economic pressures – both on donor countries and recipients.
The Global Fund, an independent group spurred by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001, has estimated that US$18 billion is the minimum needed to get the world back on track in fighting HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria after pandemic-induced setbacks.
But without the full US$18 billion, it will be difficult to get the world back on track to ending HIV, TB, and malaria by 2030.
According to the fund’s investment case, US$18 billion is the minimum amount of resources needed to address the three diseases in the countries it invests in.
The total resources needed, which will require significant domestic funding is US$130.2 billion
Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands is well aware of the challenges the fund is up against in raising funding amid the presence of multiple crises.
Countries are still reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine is putting additional strain on countries’ resources as prices of food and energy rise.
The money will go toward aid to developing nations over three years and the figure could still rise because the UK and Italy said they will announce their pledges over the next few weeks.
President Joe Biden, who committed US$6 billion — the highest pledge — ignored the shortfall and stressed the return on investment expected from the amount raised.
“For every dollar to fight these diseases, we expect US$31 in health gains and economic returns,” he said at the event in New York City alongside the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
The other big pledges came from Germany and Japan, which announced US$1.3 billion and US$1.08 billion, respectively, in recent weeks.
At its sixth replenishment, the Global Fund saw over 30 new or returning donors, including several African countries, NGOs, and private companies.
It also received large pledges from France and the UK, which rank second and third among Global Fund government donors.
Both countries, however, have yet to make any public pledges ahead of the seventh replenishment, as well as Canada, the European Commission, Italy, and the Netherlands, which make up the fund’s top 10 government donors.
Global Funds’ milestones
In its latest Results Report published this week, the Global Fund said the programs it has supported have saved 50 million lives as of the end of 2021.
A total of 23.3 million people are now on antiretroviral therapy, 5.3 million are treated for tuberculosis, and Global Fund partners have distributed 133.2 million mosquito nets, which help protect populations from malaria.
The report, however, reveals how some programs have been hit hard by the pandemic. TB treatment coverage has decreased from 69% in 2019 to 57% in 2020.
For example, the number of people dying from TB rose for the first time in a decade in 2020, when it caused an estimated 1.5 million deaths, making it the world’s second biggest infectious disease killer behind Covid.
Only 52% of children with HIV are receiving treatment. In West and Central Africa, only 60% of pregnant women with HIV are getting treatment.
Similarly, the number of people reached with HIV prevention services rose again after dropping in 2020, reaching 12.5 million people worldwide, it said.
Global Fund grants in 2021 accounted for 30% of all international HIV financing, 76% of all international TB financing, and 63% of all international malaria financing.
But more resources are needed, and donors need to pledge more money at the pledging conference, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, an international medical organization.
Even if the Global Fund raises US$18 billion next week — which MSF says is “the floor and not the ceiling” — there remains a huge global funding gap for HIV, TB, and malaria of about US$28.4 billion.