Successful Global Fund replenishment opens space for accelerating efforts
|Dr Ren Minghui, Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO|
Dr Ren Minghui,
WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
The replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, held in Montreal, Canada on 16-17 September 2016, has been unprecedented in many ways. Over US$ 12.9 billion was pledged for the next three years, nearly US$ 1 billion more than at the previous replenishment conference in 2013.
What's more, several donors increased their contributions and many affected countries in Africa made pledges for the first time to show global solidarity. There was also a significant expansion of contributions from the private sector.
The Global Fund has not only proved to be a highly impactful investment vehicle, it has also made a few critical adjustments to align with global strategies adopted by the World Health Assembly and the priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In particular, the Global Fund has decided to increase its investments in building resilient and sustainable systems for health to ensure that it achieves maximum impact for disease-specific interventions.
This is crucially important as we seek to move towards universal health coverage.
Focus on acceleration
Endemic infectious diseases kill more than 4 million people every year. While significant progress was made during the Millennium Development Goals era, progress has been uneven. In many countries and regions, the epidemics are actually getting worse.
In affected countries, the focus should now be on scaling up interventions, expanding multi-sectoral partnerships, addressing biological threats, such as drug resistance, and identifying increased domestic resources to fund programmes.
"Endemic infectious diseases kill more than 4 million people every year. While significant progress was made during the Millennium Development Goals era, progress has been uneven."
Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
The over US$ 12.9 billion pledged over the weekend will prevent 300 million infections and save 8 million lives. But to accelerate progress, we will need much more: sustained political and financial commitment, and increased regional and cross-border collaboration.
Also, to move towards the ambitious 2030 targets - which include an explicit African Union goal to reduce malaria cases and deaths to zero - infectious disease programmes should be increasingly integrated with efforts to strengthen health systems.
Working in partnership
The Global Fund's successful replenishment once again reaffirmed the global commitment to address the 'unfinished business' of the MDG era. It also highlighted the crucial importance of working in multi-stakeholder partnerships.
To overcome the challenges and accelerate progress, we need increased engagement by governments, mayors, the private sector, the pharmaceutical industry, civil society, academia, as well as many government ministries outside of health.
We also need to work harder to engage and mobilize affected communities. The global HIV movement has already generated a lot of effective engagement strategies which other advocacy movements could build on.
Partnerships will be key to ensuring that people receive better access to health commodities and services, that interventions are scaled up in line with the latest WHO guidance, and that we jointly address major human rights, economic and legal barriers.
As countries reduce the burden of infectious diseases, their economies will be stronger, their workforce healthier, and they will be able to focus more domestic resources on other challenges, such preventing and managing health emergencies, addressing the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, and mitigating the impact of climate change.
WHO is working very closely with the Global Fund and other partners to help countries accelerate progress, prevent new infections and save lives.