This year on World TB Day, the news that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria no longer has the resources to continue expanding its work is catastrophic for the 3,800 people dying every day from TB and for 33.4 million people living with HIV for whom TB is the leading cause of death.
10 years ago the Global Fund was set up in response to the humanitarian emergency posed by TB, HIV and malaria. Since then, it has matured into an ambitious, bold international funding mechanism which has helped keep 7.7 million people alive who would otherwise be dead from these three diseases, including saving 4.1 million people from dying of TB.
At the end of last year, in light of unmet donor commitments and an absence of pledges, the Global Fund cancelled its latest funding round and instead established an emergency, bare-bones funding stream. The effects of these cutbacks will gradually trickle down. A projected US$ 1.7 billion reduction in funding to tackle TB over the next five years will ultimately cost the lives of 1.7 million people that we could save if the funds were there.
The numbers of people falling ill with TB has been declining: last year people dying from the disease fell to the lowest level in a decade. The Global Fund can undoubtedly claim some of the credit for this considerable success. To avoid reversing the progress we've already made we need to sustain and develop TB, HIV and malaria programs globally. We must not falter now.
Today as leading organisations working to end deaths from TB, HIV and malaria, RESULTS UK, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Malaria No More UK are making an urgent plea for renewed funding and commitment to tackling the three diseases.
Without action a global health crisis threatens to erupt.
In Europe over 3,000 people will now not get treatment for TB in Romania; in Tanzania an estimated 68,000 TB cases will go undiagnosed and in Myanmar where 300,000 people are infected with TB, the Global Fund funding will run out in 9 months.
Aid must deliver maximum value for money and the Global Fund does just that.
Leading donor governments, including the UK, must provide robust support for an urgent replenishment for the Global Fund at the G20 meeting in Mexico this June. This key international pledging moment can ensure governments honour their funding commitments and make increased funding pledges. Such a meeting would not only sustain momentum but also enable a scaling up of existing efforts to see an end to TB in our lifetime and make bold steps towards fighting HIV and malaria.