Australia pledged AU$266 million toward ending HIV, tuberculosis and malaria Wednesday during the seventh replenishment for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an organisation dedicated to fighting the injustice that fuels infectious diseases and strengthening global pandemic preparedness. 

The contribution marks a 10% increase from Australia’s 2019 pledge, of $242 million.

The Global Fund, which has saved 50 million lives in the past 20 years, said it required at least US$18 billion in donations from wealthy nations and the private sector to adequately tackle the deadly diseases over the next three years.

The goal is 30% more than was raised during the organisation’s sixth replenishment.

Should the funding target be met, the Global Fund said 20 million lives would be saved and 450 million infections averted.

Wednesday’s replenishment saw US$14.25 billion in global donations.

Noteworthy donors include Indonesia, which gave for the first time, and Uganda, with a 50% increase from its 2019 pledge. The United States, Japan, Germany, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, France, South Africa, Ireland, South Korea and Spain all pledged to increase their former Global Fund contribution by 30%.

Australia’s contribution to the global total brings the nation’s overall Global Fund aid to $1.2 billion.

While Australian activists acknowledged that the commitment reinstates the nation as a longstanding partner, many had hoped the newly elected Labor government would topple the pledge from 2019 and deliver an investment closer to $450 million.

Global Citizen Oceania Regional Director Sarah Meredith said Australia can, and should, do more.

"Though we acknowledge Australia's continued leadership for global health, we are disappointed that this new commitment does not meet the urgent need for more ambitious Australian leadership,” Meredith said. ”If Australia is serious about working to end extreme poverty now, we need to see Australia show up, significantly lift financial contributions and give our fair share.”

The Global Fund’s replenishment comes at a critical time for global health.

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic caused significant declines in testing and treatment for all three diseases for the first time in the organisation's history. Consequently, 1.5 million people died from TB during the year, while 627,000 lives were claimed due to malaria.

While the death count might suggest otherwise, TB and malaria are entirely preventable and curable. 

Both diseases are largely found in developing countries, with economically poor and vulnerable individuals, particularly those facing undernutrition, most at risk. Mosquito-transmitted malaria is most often found among those with low immunity, including children under five and pregnant women in endemic countries.

Despite likewise being preventable, there is no cure for HIV. 

The disease currently affects over 38 million people, with nearly 1 in every 25 adults in Africa living with HIV.


Defeat Poverty

Australia Pledges $266 Million to Tackle HIV, TB and Malaria

By Madeleine Keck