(From left to Right) Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and US President Joe Biden applaud at the Seventh Global Fund Replenishment Conference in New York
New York (AFP) – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria raised $14.25 billion on Wednesday at a donors conference chaired by US President Joe Biden, at a time when decades of progress in the fight against disease are set back by the COVID-19 virus.
It was the highest amount ever pledged to a multilateral health organization – but well short of the ambitious target of $18 billion after the UK and Italy said their announcements would come later.
Founded in 2002, the Global Fund brings together governments, multilateral agencies, civil society groups and the private sector. Funding cycles last three years.
“What happened today is really an unprecedented mobilization of resources for global health,” Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, said, adding that he expected Britain and Italy to deliver their pledges in a timely manner.
“I thank you all for your progress, especially in a challenging global economic environment, and I ask that you continue to do so,” Biden urged.
Among the countries, the United States pledged the largest amount, 6 billion dollars, followed by France with 1.6 billion euros, 1.3 billion euros by Germany, 1.08 billion dollars by Japan, 1.21 billion Canadian dollars by Canada, and 715 million euros by European Union.
The Gates Foundation pledged $912 million.
The $18 billion goal was based on getting back on track to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030, reclaiming the land lost during the COVID pandemic and saving 20 million lives over the next three years.
The goal was 30 percent higher than that collected during the organization’s sixth and final renewal, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019, which raised $14 billion at the time.
Camille Speyer, head of French non-profit organization AIDES, told AFP that when the UK and Italy pledge, the amount is unlikely to reach the original target.
“While some are counting their pennies, some are counting the dead,” she said, adding that she was “furious” and the result would mean fewer screening campaigns than hoped for, fewer treatments, less funding for community health centers and less strengthening of health systems.
There has also been criticism within the UK. Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy tweeted that delays in the pledge would “slow the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and harm the UK’s national interests”.
– Signs of healing –
The fund estimates that it has reduced the number of deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 50 percent, saving more than 50 million lives over the past two decades.
Last year, she warned that the Covid pandemic was having a devastating effect on his work, slashing results across the board for the first time in its history.
It said in its latest report, however, that the massive resources it poured in to counter the economic downturn has paid off and a “recovery is underway” against the three diseases.
The Global Fund provides 30 percent of total international funding for HIV programs, 76 percent of funding for tuberculosis, and 63 percent of funding for malaria.
His other areas of focus include improving the resilience of local health systems, and raising funds against Covid-19.
According to US law, the country can provide no more than a third of funding to the Global Fund – a limit that presents a similar challenge for other countries to double US pledges.