Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) has saved a staggering 8.7 million lives. It is the world’s largest funder of tuberculosis (TB) and malaria programs and it has been critical to the HIV response by providing lifesaving treatment to 4.2 million people and enabling those most affected by HIV to take the lead in delivering prevention, treatment, care and support.
The Alliance is a leading partner of the Global Fund with its Linking Organisations collectively running one of the largest Global Fund civil society grant portfolios across countries and epidemics as diverse as Senegal, Ukraine and India, and contributing to our ability to reach more than 4.7 million people with HIV prevention, care and support services last year.
Now, in the forthcoming pledging conference (known as the Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment) set for autumn 2013, it is seeking $15 billion to enable it to do even more during the period 2014-16. Not only would the $15 billion put an extra 6.7 million people on antiretroviral medicines and reach millions more with diagnostics and medicines for TB and malaria, but, thanks to the latest scientific and programme developments, we really do have the opportunity to control these three diseases.
New and more effective treatments for TB and malaria are becoming available, while the scale up of HIV prevention and treatment means that the number of new HIV infections is decreasing. The Investment Framework (which is a model for HIV investment and HIV programming launched by UNAIDS in 2011 which has been updated to incorporate the impact of the new WHO treatment guidelines) predicts that if we keep rolling out HIV treatment and get prevention to the people most at risk, we could actually reach a tipping point where there are more people being put on treatment than are becoming infected. The upcoming donor replenishment conference will be the proof of whether donor countries are willing to seize the historic opportunity before them.
The Executive Director of the Global Fund, Mark Dybul, is urging them to do so now, while the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics are on a downward trajectory. To support this he needs one of the leading donors to step up and host the replenishment conference itself – a key factor in mobilising strong financial commitments to make replenishment a success. If we don’t get this support in 2013, the pandemics could bounce back and the opportunity we have now to defeat them could be lost.
As a vocal supporter of the fight against AIDS, President Barack Obama seems most likely to save the day. He has already requested $1.65 billion for the Fund for 2014, which if maintained across the three years would equate to almost a third of the total requested, while President François Hollande recently announced that France would contribute at least €1.08 billion ($1.4 billion).
The UK has not yet made an announcement but advocates there are calling for their government to commit £1 billion (or $1.5 billion) over the next three years. A pledge of this scale could mobilise other countries to make similarly ambitious announcements. These are much needed because under federal law the US can provide no more than 33% of Global Fund contributions, so other donors will have to commit $10 billion in order for the Fund to access the full US pledge of $5 billion over three years.
As the gains of the last decade become visible, it may be tempting for donors to decrease funding for HIV, TB and malaria programmes, especially given the financial climate. But now is not the time to slow down. Rapid and impressive reforms at the Fund mean that donors can be more confident than ever before that money invested in the Global Fund will have greater impact.
Anton Ofield-Kerr, Head of Policy at the Alliance said "We have a chance which may not present itself again in our lifetime – a chance to save more lives, prevent more infections and ultimately defeat AIDS, TB and malaria. That chance begins with this year’s Global Fund Replenishment and donors must seize the opportunity before them. They must act now."
• Take Action today by calling on all donors and implementing countries who have contributed financially to the work of the Global Fund to re-commit and fully-fund the Global Fund for the period 2014-2016. The Here I Am campaign is a global call on world leaders to save millions of lives by supporting a fully funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Here I Am brings the voices of people that are directly affected by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria into dialogue about decisions that affect their lives and lives of millions of others in their countries.