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Global Fund badly needs financial boost

OPINION
By Faith Mwende | June 29th 2016

News that Japan, a member of G7 and founding member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) had increased funding is a big boost to the health kitty.

Last month, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the country’s intention to contribute US$800 Million, a 46 per cent increase from the previous contribution, underscoring the country’s commitment to respond to public health emergencies, to control infectious diseases and achieve the Universal Health Coverage.

The positive move by Japan comes at a time when countries including Kenya are being lobbied to increase their funding to (GFATM), which has saved millions of people from these transnational epidemics.

Non-governmental organisations providing services in the health sector have been particularly urging China and Germany to increase their pledge, which is aimed at ensuring the Fifth Replenishment Round of the Global Fund due in September this year is fully funded. This can only be done by successfully stepping up their contributions. The funding is aimed at saving 8 million lives between 2017 and 2019; this will translate to 32 million lives saved cumulatively through Global Fund and avert 300 million new infections from the three diseases by 2020.

Civil Society Organisations including AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) through the “Fund the Fund” campaign, observes that the Global Fund needs a robust infusion of pledges from traditional donor countries to hit the fund-raising target of $13billion for the Fifth Round, warning that if the global AIDS funding remains as flat as it has been for the past several years, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in low and middle-income countries will continue to rise.

Kenya has been receiving funds for the Global Fund since 2003 and is the 7th largest Global Fund Portfolio in the world. This has enabled the country to have 800,000 people initiated on ARVs, 800,000 people treated for TB and more than 13.6 million mosquito nets distributed. This has led to tremendous progress in the management of the three diseases and cushioned Kenyans from paying for the management and treatment of the diseases.

Statistics show that more than 17 million people are alive globally today thanks to the  Global Fund and increased contributions from China, Germany and Japan would be a vote of confidence by the world leading economies.

Thanks to the fund, over 470 million people have been tested for HIV and about 8.6million are receiving life-saving anti-retroviral therapy and 16 million people with HIV and TB have been treated.

Nearly 3 million mothers have received treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies and 560million people with malaria have been treated.

If the Global Fund is not well resourced, the impeccable achievements will be in jeopardy. It is worth noting that due to reduction in donor pledges, the Global Fund has not hit its fund-raising targets since 2010. The global fund is a leading multilateral public health institution in the fight against these epidemics and continued donor support is critical in its success.

Among the leading economic powers of the world, China, Germany and Japan must do more to help sustain and fully fund the global fund.

The G7 members and supporting states founded the Global Fund in the early 2000s because they recognized the public health costs AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria exacted on people in the developing countries.

We urge other countries to follow the example of Japan and increase their funding to Global Fund; we need a fully funded Global Fund in the 5th Replenishment.

The recipients of the funds also need to ensure the funds are well utilised and are used in activities aimed at saving lives and increasing coverage.

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