On Monday 29th April the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases held a meeting, in the UK Parliament, to discuss the importance of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in the fight against the three diseases. Despite prorogation (marks the end of a parliamentary session and Parliament goes into recess until the state opening on the 8th May) the session was chaired by Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP and he was joined by over ten parliamentarians , and a packed audience, that heard from high level speakers, including:
Simon Bland, outgoing Chair of the Board (June 2013) of the Global Fund, reflected on his chairmanship of the Global Fund highlighting the remarkable change the Fund has went through in the last year in response to the challenges faced in 2011, results achieved in the Fund’s 10 year history and the implementation of a new strategy.
Dr Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, spoke about the potential that the Fund has to transform the trajectory of the three diseases over the next decade – completely controlling them as public threats if it has enough resources as its disposal – and the importance of UK and other country’s support during this replenishment year to continue the Fund’s vital work. Further information on the replenishment, needs assessment, results and impact of the Fund can be found here.
Maureen Murenga, Here I am Ambassador for the Global Fund, gave a very personal account of her life experience, living with HIV, having lost friends and loved ones to TB and HIV/AIDs. She spoke about how there was little hope for people living with HIV in Kenya, because of the treatment costs, but then the Global Fund helped people to access lifesaving treatment.
Lynne Featherstone MP, Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for International Development, talked about the strong support that DFID has given to the Global Fund, bringing forward payments to meet its funding pledge a year early, and its importance in the fight against the diseases.
The Minister highlighted how the Fund has gone through a period of rapid and extensive change in the last year under the guidance of Simon Bland, and colleagues, and that any future funding pledge to the Global Fund for this upcoming replenishment would be based on the Multilateral Aid Review (MAR) update due in the summer, as well as when a UK announcement could best leverage additional funds from other donors.
Questions from the audience and parliamentarians focused on why this is a key time in the fight against the three diseases, how a pledge from the UK Government could leverage more from other donors and targeting the investments to control the epidemics.
Responding to the question of why this is a key opportunity to control the three diseases Dr Mark Dybul highlighted that we have the science and epidemiology to target the diseases like never before and now is the time to maximise the investments made in new technology and interventions in the last ten years by insuring the fund has the resources it needs to completely control the diseases – removing them as public health threats.
Dr Dybul, and a number of other interventions from MPs and speakers, highlighted that the timing of an announcement of future funding from the UK Government as key to leveraging more from other donors, laying down a marker and sending out a strong signal of support. Simon reiterated this point and emphasised that the UK has never stepped away from the Fund at any time and has been a world leader in its support.
About the Global Fund
The Global Fund is the largest international financier of programmes to combat HIV, TB and malaria. It channels almost 90% of international financing to fight TB, 50% of financing for malaria and half of all anti-retroviral drugs to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Since its inception in 2002, programmes supported by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have saved an estimated 8.7 million lives, disbursed anti-retroviral drugs to 4.2 million people, treated 9.7 million cases of TB, and distributed 310 million insecticide-treated bed nets.
The UK’s role in supporting the Global Fund
The UK has shown strong support to the Global Fund since its inception in 2002. DFID have maintained the previous Government’s commitment of £1billion (2008- 2015), paying annual contributions in line with this pledge. It also continued supporting the Fund through a turbulent period in 2011-12, following the cancellation of the 11th round of funding. The UK also brought some payments forward during this period, meaning it is likely to meet its £1billion pledge a year early, in 2014.
Cancellation of Round 11 and subsequent Global Fund reforms
In November 2011 the Global Fund cancelled its eleventh round of grant-making (“Round 11”), due to fears of inadequate funding. The primary reason for the cancelation was that countries did not deliver on pledges made to the fund (with the notable exception of the UK).
A number of donors called for necessary change of the Global Fund’s structure. Simon Bland, a leading DFID civil servant, was appointed to oversee reforms at the Fund – the core of which have been implemented, including a new funding model.
These reforms have strengthening the organization’s foundations and refocused resources and efforts on impeccable grant management, while remaining true to the organization’s vision, mission, principles and values. The Fund’s Secretariat has been restructured to ensure that three quarters of staff are working in grant management supporting countries where the need is greatest.
Future DFID contribution to the Fund
The Fund received the highest possible rating (“Very Good value for money”) in DFID’s Multilateral Aid Review (MAR) in 2011, the same as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), which received a substantial increase in investment from the UK Government in 2011.
Since the publication of the MAR, DFID has repeatedly stated that the UK will ‘significantly increase’ its contribution to the Fund, with the previous Secretary of State for International Development saying that the UK would “up to double” its contribution – which is also a recommendation in the APPG on Global TB report ‘Drug-Resistant TB: Old Disease – New Threat’.
The importance of 2013 and plans for replenishment
This year is a critical year for the Fund, as it is a replenishment year. The Global Fund recently announced that it will need $15 billion to tackle the three diseases for the 2014-2016 period. We have a choice: we can invest now or pay forever,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “Innovations in science and implementation have given us a historic opportunity to completely control these diseases. If we do not, the long-term costs will be staggering.”
President Joyce Banda of Malawi, a leader in efforts to prevent and treat infectious diseases in Africa, said that raising money for the Global Fund was essential to defeat AIDS, TB and malaria.”The progress we have made with the support of the Global Fund has shown us what we can do when we come together. Defeating these diseases is a shared responsibility. African countries are doing their utmost to provide human and financial resources for the health of their people. But we need strong support of the Global Fund to succeed.”
Together with other funding, including an estimated US$37 billion from domestic sources in implementing countries and US$24 billion from other international sources, a US$15 billion contribution to the Global Fund would allow the collective work to address close to 90 percent of the global resource needs to fight these three diseases, estimated at a total of US$87 billion.
If this goal were achieved it would mean that:
• 17 million patients with TB and with multi-drug resistant TB could be treated, saving over 6 million lives over the 3 year period
• One million new HIV infections could be averted each year
• 196,000 lives could be saved from Malaria by preventing a resurgence of the disease and millions of new cases of Malaria could be stopped.