Global Fund raises record US$13b to fight AIDS, TB and malaria

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 9:20pm

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that a record US$12.9 billion has been raised for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years.

Trudeau made the announcement on the second and final day of an international donors’ meeting as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others gathered in Montreal to determine how to replenish the major global health fund that combats AIDS and two of the world’s other leading killers in low-income countries.

Gates said he expects the figure to reach US$13 billion by the end of the year. He calls it a significant accomplishment at a time of tight budgets and a growing refugee crisis. He increased his individual commitment by 20 per cent to US$600 million. The US, the biggest donor, is contributing up to US$4.3 billion.

The Global Fund raised US$11.7 billion at its last conference in Washington in 2013.

“When we sat down earlier this year and looked at all the tight budgets and all the refugees and the challenge of keeping these things on the front of people’s minds we didn’t know where we would end up,” Gates said.

“We’re hitting record amounts here and we’ll be able to save millions of lives.”

Gates said most of the developed countries are quite generous but he said Russia is not engaged. He noted that China has gone from a recipient to a donor, and is expected to announce something at the UN General Assembly in New York. He said India is donating for the first time with a contribution of US$10 million.

Gates acknowledged being worried about what a potential Donald Trump presidency might mean for the Global Fund, but said the idea the US doesn’t benefit from being engaged internationally is not new. He said when America is engaged abroad it is a win for both the world and the US. He pointed to the allied victory in the second world war and polio eradication as examples.

“Whoever gets elected we hope to bring them around to that point of view. One group may be harder than the other,” Gates said.

“Even though sometimes you worry, you need to work with whoever is elected and we’re all humans and if we can get them out to Africa to see these things we tend to get the right generosity.”

Created as a public-private initiative, the Global Fund has been credited with helping to save 22 million lives and preventing 300 million infections over the past decade as it pursues a UN target of eradicating AIDS by 2030 and the other diseases even sooner.

“We have the knowledge and tools to end HIV, TB and malaria by 2030,” Ban said. “Let us work together to make this world healthier and better. I count on your strong commitment.”

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance, said Ban, “threatens our response to all three diseases” and represents a “global health threat”. He called on the Global Fund to join this fight too.

While more than 100 countries have received assistance from the Fund, in excess of 70 per cent of its spending has gone to African countries, according to Global Fund figures.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse