Around 40 million people worldwide are HIV positive, 95% of them live in developing countries.
In 2004, approximately five million people were newly infected with the virus. HIV/AIDS has killed more than 20 million people worldwide. 3.1 million people died of AIDS-related causes in 2004.
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) was created in 2001 to provide major financial resources in the fight against three diseases. These diseases kill over 6 million people each year and the numbers are growing.
As of mid-2007, the Global Fund Board approved more than US$ 7.7 billion for programmes in 136 countries. Together with the efforts of many implementing partners, Global Fund-supported programmes have already saved 1.8 million lives. Till mid 2008, the Global Fund committed US$ 11.3 billion in 136 countries to support aggressive interventions against all three diseases.
The Global Fund announced its approval of nearly $3 billion in Round 8 funding to improve access to HIV treatment and prevention and help reduce deaths from TB and malaria by 50% by 2015. The Global Fund’s board approved 94 grants worth $2.75 billion over two years, representing the group’s largest funding round to date (Global Fund release, 11/10).
The decision was made in New Delhi, during the Global Fund Board Meeting. The Board decision was rendered particularly difficult because the unusually large average size of the proposals meant that there was not enough money to pay the full cost of the proposals recommended for approval by the Technical Review Panel (TRP).
As of mid 2008, Global Fund supported programmes are estimated to have averted more than 2.5 million deaths by providing AIDS treatment (ARV) for 1.75 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment (DOTS) for 3.9 million people, and by distributing 59 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria worldwide.
Round 8 funding support now brings the Global Fund’s overall portfolio to US$ 14.4 billion in 140 countries. “This is the highest amount of new financing approved by the Global Fund ever. These new resources will significantly help the world in achieving global targets such as universal access to AIDS treatment and prevention, and cutting the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria by half by 2015,” said Rajat Gupta, Chair of the Global Fund Board.
He added that 38% of the resources will be used for HIV/AIDS programmes, 11% for TB programmes and 51% for malaria programmes. Around 90% of the approved grants will be distributed to low-income countries, 77% of which are in Africa and the Middle East. The remaining funds will be dispersed to countries in Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Pacific, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said the “increased demand” for funding “requires a renewed resource mobilisation effort.” He added that the Global Fund has a “fantastic message to bring back to the rich nations of the world: programmes to fight these three diseases save lives, reduce disease burdens and strengthen health systems” (Global Fund release, 11/10).
There is abundant evidence that science-based HIV prevention is effective, especially when backed by high-level political leadership, a national AIDS programme, strong community involvement together with adequate funding. Components of successful prevention efforts include clear and accurate communication about HIV/AIDS and methods to prevent infection, HIV counselling and testing, and treatment.
Gap analysis reveals that vast majority of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world do not have access to the treatment, as a result of limited health care infrastructures and the high cost of many medications. It has been estimated that a total of US$7-10 billion a year is needed from all sources to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in low and middle-income countries. Allocation of around US$5.4 billion stands as great commitment of Global Fund to fight AIDS.
The writer is the Coordinator, Country Coordinating Mechanism/GFATM, Bangladesh. E-mail: [email protected]
Dr Riffat H Lucy
Source: The Daily Star, November 29, 2008