Anso Thom

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria estimates that more than $1.6 billion (R12.7bn) in additional funding will be available in the next two years.

A statement released in Geneva on Wednesday said the new forecast was a result of “strategic decisions made by the board, freeing up funds that can be invested in countries where there is the most pressing demand”.

It added that the board had adopted a plan to transform the Global Fund, leading to improved financial supervision and overall efficiency.

In the past, the Global Fund has come under criticism for long delays in paying promised money to successful bids, leading to many organisations, such as SA’s Treatment Action Campaign, coming close to closing up shop.

“This forecast is better than expected and it comes from the fantastic response we are getting to our transformation,” said Gabriel Jaramillo, who became general manager of the Global Fund in February.

Jaramillo was due to report to the Global Fund board yesterday on the sweeping reorganisation, with the aim of radically improving management.

The statement said renewed confidence in the effectiveness of the Global Fund had led to new and accelerated donations from some countries.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has become the main financier of programmes to fight Aids, TB and malaria, with approved funding of $22.6bn for more than 1 000 programmes in 150 countries.

To date, programmes supported by the Global Fund are providing HIV treatment for 3.3 million people, anti-TB treatment for 8.6 million and 230 million insecticide-treated bednets for malaria prevention.

The Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) urged the Global Fund to continue leveraging more funds to save lives.

The volatility of money available for the Global Fund has slowed the provision of HIV-prevention and treatment services, UNAids warned.

It urged the Global Fund to make the extra resources available to countries as quickly as possible.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders – MSF) welcomed the news.

“It’s very good news that the Global Fund is reopening for business. Now we can stop wasting time, which is the most precious resource in this fight against HIV, TB and malaria, because wasting time is wasting lives. The new funding window at the Global Fund needs to be opened as soon as possible, be as big as possible, and be open to all affected countries to support treatment scale-up. Now is not the time to be conservative and keep money in the bank that could go toward getting life-saving pills into people’s bodies,” said Sharonann Lynch, the HIV/Aids policy adviser, MSF access campaign.

It remains unclear whether the fund’s board will agree to use what is available in the short and medium term for a new funding window. Also at stake is whether the fund will select specific countries and interventions to fund, which would be straying from the norm of country- and needs-driven open calls for proposals. – Health-e News Service