World leaders promise billions to tackle AIDS, TB, and malaria – Nexus News
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has gathered $14.25bn in crucial new funding, after years of progress against the diseases was deviated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
United States President Joe Biden, who organized the conference in New York City on the sidelines of the annual high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), stated that the funding — the highest amount ever promised for a multilateral health organization — is mandatory to tackling the diseases.
“This is an investment that will save another 20 million lives, reduce mortality from these diseases by another 64 percent in the next four years,” said Biden.
The fund, a public/private alliance organized in 2002, is requesting $18bn for its next three-year funding cycle from governments, civil society and the private sector. Before Wednesday’s conference, it had already raised more than a third of the total.
“What’s happened today is actually an unparalleled mobilization of resources for global health,” said Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands.
“Thank you all for stepping up, especially in a challenging global economic environment, and I ask you, keep it going,” urged Biden.
The Global Fund said the $14.25bn figure was likely to increase as more donations come in. The United Kingdom and Italy have noted that they will announce their donations at a later date.
“For the government and people of Malawi, this is not a conference but a life saver,” Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi, said earlier in the day after pledging $1m.
According to UNAIDS, there were 990,000 adults and children in Malawi living with HIV in 2021, and USAID says that tuberculosis is a “major public health problem in Malawi”.
Among the donors, the US has pledged the most at $6bn.
France, Germany, Japan, Canada, the European Union and the Gates Foundation also announced sizable amounts.
“We can cure tuberculosis. We can prevent malaria. We can fight these terrible diseases. We will end AIDS, we will end tuberculosis, we will end malaria – once and for all,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said after announcing the bloc’s latest donation.
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‘Some are counting pennies’
The fund raised a then-record $14bn at its last donor conference in 2019, which was organized by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Within the UK, there was some criticism of the government’s decision to hold on with its announcement.
In a Twitter post, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said it would “slow the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria and damage the UK’s national interest”.
Camille Spire, president of the French non-profit AIDES, informed the AFP news agency that even when the UK and Italy made their promises, the total would probably still not meet the said target.
“While some are counting their pennies, some are counting the dead,” she said, stating that she was “angry” and the outcome would mean fewer screening campaigns than had been hoped for, fewer treatments, less funding for community health centers and less strengthening of health systems.
The fund estimates it has been able to limit the death toll from AIDS, TB, and malaria by 50 percent over the past 20 years, saving over 50 million lives.
The Global Fund provides 30 percent of all international financing for HIV programmes, 76 percent of funding for TB, and 63 percent of funding for malaria.
Under US law, the country cannot provide more than one-third of funding for the Global Fund — a limit designed to serve as a matching challenge to other nations to double the US pledge.