Global Fund Releases Figures on Progress of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB Programs Ahead of G8 Summit
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Tuesday released figures on the progress of its programs in 136 countries ahead of the Group of Eight industrialized nations summit next month, Reuters reports (Dunham, Reuters, 5/22). The G8 summit is scheduled for June 6 through June 8 in Heiligendamm, Germany (Global Fund release, 5/22). The figures show that as of May 1, between one million and 1.1 million people have received access to antiretroviral drugs through Global Fund programs, up from 544,000 during the same period last year. Estimates also show that 30 million families have received insecticide-treated nets to protect against malaria and that more than 2.8 million have received TB drugs since the Global Fund started its programs in 2002. Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine estimated that the organization's programs have prevented the deaths of 1.8 million lives people since 2002 (Reuters, 5/22).
Programs that provide antiretroviral access to people in need "continue to show strong growth." However, the "most impressive" performance in recent months has been in malaria prevention efforts, according to a Global Fund release. Figures show a 165% increase in the number of ITNs distributed during the last year. Deaths among children also have declined significantly in countries where effective malaria programs have been launched in recent years, the Global Fund reports (Global Fund release, 5/22).
According to Kazatchkine, the Global Fund has provided grants totaling about $3.5 billion to fight the three diseases. About 30% of funding for the organization comes from the U.S., and 55% comes from European Union countries, he added (Reuters, 5/22). In addition, the Global Fund has committed grants totaling $7.6 billion (AP/International Herald Tribune, 5/22). However, Kazatchkine said that much more remains to be done (Reuters, 5/22). The Global Fund earlier this month announced that it aims to triple its annual spending to between $6 billion and $8 billion by 2010 to meet the needs of developing countries. According to Kazatchkine, the new funding goals, which are about three to four times current annual spending, will require additional contributions from the public and private sectors. The Global Fund will seek donations from countries and businesses to help reach its spending target. The Global Fund supports 30% of HIV/AIDS programs, about two-thirds of TB treatment and 45% of malaria treatment programs worldwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/1).
According to Kazatchkine, the Global Fund is "clearly exceeding [its] targets" (AFP/France 24, 5/22). Bernhard Schwartlander, director for Performance Evaluation and Policy at the Global Fund, said that although the "need to invest in planning, infrastructure and procurement systems for national malaria programs in many countries led to initial concerns about delays and lack of effectiveness," the figures released on Tuesday "show that the early investments now are paying off, and we can expect malaria results to continue to grow quickly." Rajat Gupta, chair of the Global Fund's board, said, "Through effective in-country management of our grants and strong partnerships, Global Fund-supported programs can help contribute to attaining the U.N. Millennium Development Goal to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and reach the G8 goal of getting HIV/AIDS medication to everyone who needs it by 2010" (Global Fund release, 5/22).
Kazatchkine urged G8 leaders to fulfill their pledges to help fight the diseases. "I hope they (the G8 leaders) can be inspired by the Global Fund's success to pursue health targets they have set, including cutting malaria and tuberculosis rates in half," he added (AFP/France 24, 5/22). German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to make aid to Africa a strong focus of the G8 summit. Merkel also said that key discussion points will be the fight against HIV/AIDS, forgiving debt and increasing aid to the continent (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/17).