SWITZERLAND – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is gearing up to implement its ambitious new strategy to defeat these long-standing pandemics by 2030, Health Policy Watch reports.
It targets raising at least US$18 billion to save 20 million lives and reduce mortality from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria by 64%.
Despite the fact that tuberculosis kills more people than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined, the global body will continue to allocate only 18% of its overall funding to TB, 50% to HIV/AIDS, and 32% to malaria for the first US$12 billion of funds spent between 2023 and 2026.
However, if total funding exceeds US$12 billion during that time period, a new split of 45% for HIV, 25% for tuberculosis, and 30%for malaria will be implemented.
Global Fund Board Chair Donald Kaberuka welcomed the increased funding for tuberculosis as allowing for the “scale-up of TB programs for the most vulnerable while protecting HIV and malaria gains.”
However, for the TB community, the new allocation formula falls far short of reality, in which TB has a much larger global health impact overall, and TB diagnosis and treatment also suffered significant setbacks during the pandemic.
“This decision does not reflect the burden, and especially the mortality,” said Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, interview with Health Policy Watch.
“If you put TB, HIV, and malaria together, TB alone is responsible for close to 60% of [disease burden and mortality], and HIV and malaria closer to 40%.”
And, while the allocation share has increased proportionally from only 16 percent in 2013–2014, “this is far from reflecting any needs or realities – it will not really push the end of TB,” she claims.
The annual Global Fund meeting this week discussed an implementation plan for the new five-year strategy “Fighting Pandemics and Building a Healthier and More Equitable World.”
Not only does HIV receive the most money from the Global Fund. They also have the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which receives significant funding from the US government.
They receive billions of dollars in external funding each year, whereas TB receives less than a billion, noted Fitiu.
Global Fund not the answer to the financing gap
“The Global Fund is not the solution to the financial gap,” Ditiu said.
While Ditiu hopes that the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference, which will be hosted by the United States in September – October 2022, will increase overall funding for tuberculosis, she also believes that new financing solutions must be developed.
Looking ahead, Ditiu hoped that high-burden TB countries such as Indonesia, Brazil, and India would raise awareness about the ongoing threat posed by this ancient airborne disease, which has also developed new, and even more lethal drug-resistant forms that are even more difficult to treat.
Disproportionate funding for tuberculosis leaves millions undiagnosed and untreated.
Due to outdated technology and access barriers, approximately 4 million people with tuberculosis go undiagnosed and untreated each year due to a lack of funding.
Many low- and middle-income countries continue to use the now-outdated method of sputum smear microscopy to diagnose tuberculosis, which is not as accurate as molecular diagnostic tools.
Furthermore, many of these countries’ TB services lack resources and funding to identify more vulnerable groups that are unable to be diagnosed and treated on their own.
The Global Fund has stated that in order to eliminate HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria as public health threats by 2030, it will place a greater emphasis on community-based services in the coming years.
The strategy has three stated goals. People-centered health systems; community engagement to ensure no one is left behind; and maximizing health equity, gender equality, and human rights are among them.
In the face of a pandemic and other humanitarian crises, it is especially important to protect and advance health equity, gender equality, and human rights.