Britain has announced a funding pledge of £1.4 billion over the next three years to the Global Fund — which works to combat the world’s three most deadly infectious diseases: malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV/AIDS.
The announcement, made on Saturday by outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, has been described by the Global Fund as “outstanding leadership in global health” that will go to help saving millions of lives around the world.
In 2017 alone, more than 2.5 million people died from AIDS, TB, and malaria combined. Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 adolescent girls and young women across Africa become infected with HIV every day; TB is the leading cause of death from an infectious disease; and, according to UNICEF, malaria kills a child every two minutes.
Since 2002, the Global Fund says it has helped save more than 27 million lives and reduced deaths from the three diseases by more than a third in the countries in which it invests.
But more is needed. That’s why, ahead of the Fund’s 3-yearly replenishment conference hosted on Oct. 10 in Lyon, France, the partnership is seeking $14 billion from donors to help save 16 million lives by 2023.
The Fund is also seeking to halve the mortality rate from HIV, TB, and malaria, and build stronger health systems by 2023.
Rory Stewart, the UK’s international development secretary, said that “far too many people still die from these diseases”, adding that the UK will be continuing to “invest in controlling and ultimately ending these diseases, and we will be making sure other countries contribute generously.”
“These diseases cross borders,” he added. “Therefore, our support is something that helps the poorest people in the world, but is also something that keeps us safe here at home.”
According to the government, the UK commitment will:
- Provide life-saving antiretroviral therapy to more than 3.3 million people with HIV
- Provide TB treatment and care for 2.3 million people
- Provide 120,000 people with treatment for multidrug-resistant TB
- Distribute 92 million mosquito nets to protect children and families from malaria
- Strengthen health systems and promote global health security
While making the announcement, May called on other world leaders assembled at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, to take “urgent International action” and offer a “truly collective response” to tackle TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS.
“Today I am calling on G20 countries to follow the UK’s lead in supporting the vital work of the Global Fund and its relentless efforts to tackle AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world,” she said at the G20 summit.
“Not only do these diseases cause untold suffering to those who fall ill, they hold back whole countries’ development,” she continued. “The pledge we are making today will save millions of lives and help to build a healthier and more prosperous world — and that is firmly in our national interest.”
The UK pledge itself is made up of £467 million a year over the next three years, which Peter Sands, the Global Fund’s executive director, described as “a strong message to the world that we must all step up the fight to end epidemics.”
The pledge represents a 16% increase from the UK’s last pledge to the Global Fund, celebrated by Sands as a “tremendous show of leadership.”
Through the new pledge, the UK is also encouraging greater engagement from the private sector in tackling global health issues, with the government matching up to £100 million of investment from private sector organisations.
As part of the new funding agreement, the UK will set out performance expectations around key priorities, like: improving health systems; preventing new infections; helping the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised, including women and girls; and tackling antimicrobial resistance.