Donors Pledge $13 Billion to Replenish Global Fund

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International donors committed to provide $12.9 billion over 3 years for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria at the fund's fifth replenishment conference, held last week in Montreal. "This replenishment is an enormous contribution to our collective ambition of ending AIDS," said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé.

UNAIDS recently announced that an estimated 17 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the end of 2015, but over half of those who need antiretrovirals to preserve their own health and prevent HIV transmission are still not yet receiving it.

Public health experts, activists, and government leaders at the recent International AIDS Conference in Durban stressed that progress in expanding access to HIV treatment and prevention services could be reversed if stakeholders do not commit to increased funding. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that global HIV funding fell in 2015 for the first time in 5 years.

But world leaders appeared to heed the alarm, as the 2016 replenishment conference raised nearly $1 billion more for the Global Fund than the previous replenishment meeting in 2013. Several countries raised their pledges and a number of countries contributed for the first time.

"We can end these epidemics for good if we accelerate our efforts and continue to bring in new partners," said meeting host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The U.S made the largest pledge, at $4.3 billion, which accounts for about a third of the Fund's total funding. The U.K.'s £1.1 billion (US$1.4 billion) was the second largest pledge for this period, while France's €1.08 billion (US$1.2 billion) maintained its position as the second largest donor overall. Donors that substantially increased their contributions include Germany (US$890 million, up 33%), Canada (US$804 million, up 23%), Japan (US$800 million, up 46%), and the European Commission (US$529 million, up nearly 30%).

In addition, private sector contributions more than doubled. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, donated $600 million.

"The Global Fund is one of the most impactful investments a donor can make in global health," Bill Gates said.

The amount pledged last week is projected to save 8 million lives, and avert 300 million new infections, according to a Global Fund press release. Programs supported by the Fund are estimated to have saved 20 million lives since it was established in 2002 and averted 146 million new infections since 2012. Specifically, funding has put 9.2 million people on ART, provided TB treatment for 15.1 million people, and distributed 659 million mosquito nets as protection against malaria.

To meet global targets to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS estimates that $26.2 billion will be needed in 2020 -- around $7 billion more than the total available in 2015. 

The Global Fund partnership stressed its commitment to removing human rights barriers to health for key populations such as gay men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs, who are often denied access due to stigma and discrimination. The Fund invests in many programs that specifically address the needs of women and girls, who are at higher risk of HIV, TB, and malaria in much of the world.

"Working together and transcending sectoral boundaries is the only way to tackle the interconnected challenges that determine human well-being," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the meeting. "Working to endHIV, TB, and malaria is intrinsic to the SDGs [UN Sustained Development Goals], and each of the SDGs has a bearing on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages. That is why the Global Fund has sharpened its focus on human rights, key populations, and gender equality in its new strategic framework."

Ban stressed the importance of improving living conditions in crowded urban slums to fight TB, addressing water management and sanitation to reduce malaria, and building strong and resilient health systems that are accessible to all. He also noted that the emerging challenge of antimicrobial resistance threatens the response to all of these diseases.

"The Global Fund is an essential partner to address the continuing epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria," Sidibé said. "Through an effective response to these diseases we can improve the lives of millions of people and simultaneously address poverty, inequality, and discrimination."

9/20/16

Sources

The Global Fund. Global Fund Donors Pledge Nearly $13 Billion to Help End Epidemics. Press release. September 17, 2016.

UNAIDS. UNAIDS encouraged for future of HIV funding as doors pledge full support to the Global Fund. Press release. September 20, 2016.

United Nations. Ban hails UN-backed fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria as partnership model for Global Goals. Press release. September 17, 2016.