The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria replenishment conference in Montreal in September presents an incredibly important moment for the fund. Without a renewed commitment, we will not realise the global plan’s targets.
The UK government should commit to the Global Fund and increase its contribution. A number of organisations, including ONE and Results UK, are calling on the UK government to increase the UK’s 2013 pledge by 20 per cent and to contribute £1.2 billion for 2017-2019.
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has had a remarkable record in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria, with an estimated 17 million lives saved as a result of its work. The current government states that UK support has enabled the Fund to keep 8.1 million people alive with HIV therapy, distribute 548 million mosquito nets, detect and treat 13.2 million cases of TB, and has contributed to a decline of one third in the number of people dying from the diseases since 2002 in Global Fund countries. Despite this progress, it is estimated that AIDS kills 1.2 million people each year, tuberculosis 1.5 million and malaria 400,000.
I believe we need to scale up our efforts in combating malaria and invest more in AIDS and TB research and development, tackling resistance to life-saving medicines and boosting health systems across the world to help bring an end to these terrible diseases. If we tackle AIDS, TB and malaria, there will be a number of spill-over effects, such as greater productivity and growth, increased equity and women’s empowerment, and improved wellbeing, particularly for vulnerable and marginalised populations.
During the Global Fund’s last replenishment in September 2013, the UK government committed to give £1 billion to the Global Fund over three years, subject to a 10 per cent donor share cap. The current government has said that it is keen to see a successful replenishment for the Global Fund and that an announcement will be made on the UKs commitment after the Government’s Multilateral Aid Review is published this summer.
The government’s support for the Global Fund is commendable but it is important to ensure this is not the only funding mechanism used by the government. Bilateral programmes are still needed to reach those most affected by epidemic diseases and those most vulnerable to human rights violations, and to help improve the effectiveness of multilateral programmes. The UK should be at the forefront of international efforts to tackle poverty and poor health provision in developing countries, and show real ambition in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 3 is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages and one of the targets, to be achieved by 2030, is to end the epidemics of AIDS, TB and malaria.
I hope that the government will soon set out its commitment to the Global Fund. I will continue to follow this issue closely.