Geneva — A new report [ download in English ] released by the Global Fund today estimates that countries affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria urgently need US$28.5 billion to protect the extraordinary progress achieved in the fight against the three diseases in the past two decades.
The report, Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Countries Affected by HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was released today to highlight the impact of COVID-19 and resources needed to protect progress against HIV, TB and malaria - diseases that still kill more than 2.4 million people a year. Since 2002, the Global Fund partnership has helped save more than 32 million lives and cut HIV, TB and malaria deaths by nearly half since the peak of the epidemics. The COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to reverse that progress.
Aside from the direct toll of COVID-19, which could be catastrophic in the most vulnerable countries, estimates suggest deaths from HIV, TB and malaria could as much as double if systems for health are overwhelmed, treatment and prevention programs are disrupted, and resources are diverted.
Globally, that means the annual death toll from HIV, TB and malaria could be set back to levels not seen since the peak of the epidemics, wiping out nearly two decades of progress in the worst-hit regions.
"The stakes are extraordinarily high," said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. "The knock-on effects of COVID-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and other infectious diseases could be catastrophic. Mitigating that impact will require swift action, extraordinary levels of leadership and collaboration, and significant extra resources. Above all, we must leave no one behind."
For the poorest and most vulnerable communities already afflicted by HIV, TB and malaria, COVID-19 represents a fundamental threat. Not only are they extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 itself, but they are likely to be even more at risk from HIV, TB and malaria. The economic impact of COVID-19 will also fall most heavily on such communities, so nutritional deficiencies and the collapse of services will exacerbate their susceptibility to disease.
Mounting an effective response to COVID-19 and mitigating the impact on HIV, TB and malaria will require significantly more resources than have been made available thus far. The Global Fund has worked with partners to estimate the likely needs in the countries where the Global Fund invests. We estimate that approximately US$28.5 billion is required for the next 12 months to adapt HIV, TB and malaria programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, to train and protect health workers, to reinforce systems for health so they don't collapse, and to respond to COVID-19 itself, particularly through testing, tracing and isolation and by providing treatments as they become available (this does not include the cost of a vaccine).
The Global Fund reacted decisively to the emergence of COVID-19, quickly making available up to US$1 billion to support countries as they respond to the pandemic, adapt their HIV, TB and malaria programs, and reinforce their already overstretched health systems. However, these funds will be almost fully deployed by July 2020.
Taking account of the contributions of other partners, and the US$1 billion the Global Fund has already committed, the Global Fund estimates that it would need an additional US$5 billion for the next 12 months to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on countries affected by HIV, TB and malaria.
Maintaining progress against the three diseases and fighting the new COVID-19 pandemic requires extensive collaboration with governments, technical partners, civil society, private sector, faith-based organizations and communities. The Global Fund is a founding partner of the ACT-Accelerator partnership to accelerate development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines. We are working closely with WHO, the World Bank, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), UNICEF, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Unitaid and other health partners on procuring and deploying COVID19 diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment for health workers, and other essential supplies, and on strengthening key components of systems for health.
Given the Global Fund's role as the world's largest multilateral provider of grants for global health and our focus on fighting infectious diseases and strengthening health systems, we are uniquely positioned to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate the knock-on impact on HIV, TB and malaria.
As in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, the global COVID-19 response must work with communities and partners to protect human rights and address stigma and discrimination, particularly among key and vulnerable populations.
"To protect and sustain progress against HIV, TB and malaria, defeat COVID-19 and save lives, we must unite to fight," said Sands.