Today, the world marks exactly ten years since countries, civil society and the private sector all came together to launch The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – an innovative way of delivering aid that differed from other models.
Established in response to the terror and havoc caused by these once largely unchecked diseases, the unprecedented success of the Global Fund has transformed global health. Now, this unique public-private partnership stands as a clear demonstration of the scale of what is truly possible when we all work together.
As Kofi Annan – who as Secretary-General of the UN helped instigate the birth of the Global Fund – reflects:
'Many people said that the plan was unrealistic and the call for a war chest was a dream, but great achievements always start with a dream, and the progress we have made in the fight against the three diseases is proof that dreams can be realised.'
And the ‘proof’ is staggering. Since its inception in 2002, grants from the Global Fund have saved nearly 8 million lives. That’s an estimated 100,000 lives saved each month! Further, in the fight against AIDS alone, 6.6 million people in low and middle-income countries are on AIDS treatment, up from 200,000 a decade ago. Even more amazingly, access to AIDS treatment has increased over 3000% since the beginning of the Global Fund.
True, the Global Fund has not been without its challenges, as the occasional allegations of corruption illustrate. But there can be no denying that the Global Fund has – according to an independent high-level review – “made ordinary and expected what was unthinkable in dozens of nations ten years ago.”
Yet, as it celebrates its 10th birthday, the Global Fund’s live-saving work is at risk of grinding to a halt. As we reported back in November, the GF Board was recently forced to cancel its next round of grant-making and to announce that it would not be making any new grants for the next two years. This decision was made following the default by several donor countries on their payments to the Fund.
There can be no doubt that the Fund’s decision will adversely affect the progress that has been made over the last ten years. By cancelling its next round of grants, the Fund will effectively be forced to turn away new patients. This is a tragedy that must be prevented.
Key donors like the US, UK and Australia - crucial to the Fund’s success – should maintain, if not increase, their financial support now more than ever. Perhaps more importantly, they should also do everything they can to encourage new donors and ensure other existing donor countries keep their commitments.
Indeed, it would be a shame for all of humanity if, after coming so far, we let the progress made over the last decade be reversed. As Hilary Clinton said back in November: “To sit on the sidelines now would be devastating. It would cost lives, and we would miss out on this unprecedented opportunity. When so many people are suffering, and we have the means to help them, we have an obligation to do what we can.”