2 March 2016

Africa: With Increased Commitment, Europe Demonstrates Leadership in Global Health

Ending epidemics that affect the lives of millions of people in low and middle-income countries is one of the smartest investments anyone can make to create opportunity, promote social justice and foster growth and security. With today's announcement that it is supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with a €470 million contribution for the next three years - an increase of 27 percent - the European Commission is strengthening a partnership that is saving millions of lives and transforming communities. That is about €1 per citizen in the European Union - less than the price of a cappuccino in Rome, Brussels or Copenhagen. That is a terrific return on investment.

At a time when the world is facing challenges such as the migrant crisis, climate change and a sluggish economic recovery, our European partners understand that development cooperation makes more sense than ever. We are at a critical moment in the fight against the three diseases, and the EC announcement encourages others to contribute more to the fight and embrace the global goal of ending HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics by 2030. We have made huge progress, but we still have a lot of work to do.

The threat of new contagious diseases brings urgency to the need for resilient and sustainable systems for health, which is a special focus and a pillar of the Global Fund's strategy. A full 40 percent of Global Fund investments go toward improving systems of health, on many fronts, including innovating on procurement for sustainable improvements, which are beneficial for the overall health of a community. Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a terrifying development, especially in Europe, and we are working hard with partners to tackle it head-on.

With the surge in displaced people, prevention and treatment of HIV, TB and malaria needs to be equally mobile and flexible. To achieve more impact, Global Fund programs offer tailored approaches to reach the people who need them the most, including providing essential TB services for Syrian refugees in the Middle East, freeing up critical resources to treat basic illnesses.

While we have won many battles in the fight against HIV, there are still key populations at great risk. Young women and girls are much more likely than young men and boys to contract HIV, for example; every week, 7,000 girls and young women aged 15-24 years old are infected with HIV every week. This is unacceptable. The Global Fund and partners are working to change this terrible statistic, with social protection programs and by linking health and education that give opportunities for young women and girls to stay in school and HIV-free.

Advancing human rights and social justice is essential to expanding access to health services, especially for key populations and those who are most vulnerable. Similarly, making health care accessible and affordable to all has a powerful impact on people, contributing to ending diseases, and more broadly, reducing poverty and health risks in low-income countries.

Together, European Commission and European Union member states represent nearly 50 percent of the total funding provided to the Global Fund. Ending epidemics is a top priority in a world where everything is connected. With a holistic approach to health and development, investments by the Global Fund partnership are accelerating the end of AIDS, TB and malaria as epidemics and building resilient and sustainable systems for health.

This year, a strong Replenishment for the Global Fund will contribute to a better world. We are aiming for a US$13 billion investment for the 2017-2019 funding cycle. That would save up to eight million lives, avert up to 300 million infections and new cases of HIV, TB and malaria, and lay the groundwork for potential economic gains of up to US$290 billion in the years ahead. That is, overall, a terrific return on investment.

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