WASHINGTON (AN) — Reeling from setbacks in public health caused by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the world's largest disease-fighting fund sought US$18 billion but fell 20% short of its fundraising goal to continue its efforts to lower the death rate from three diseases in developing countries.
Hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Seventh Replenishment Conference raised US$14.25 billion on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The United States, a founding contributor and the largest single donor to the fund, has given it nearly US$20 billion since 2002.
Though it fell short of its goal, the Global Fund still raised slightly more than the US$14 billion at the last replenishment round in 2019.
The White House noted it is "the largest amount ever raised for the Global Fund and one of the single largest fundraising efforts for global health ever."
Biden’s 2023 federal budget calls for an initial US$2 billion contribution, the first installment of a total US$6 billion pledge over three years.
The Global Fund — a partnership of governments, the private sector and civil society — was founded 20 years ago to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Over the past two decades, the fund says, it has invested more than US$55 billion in programs.
That investment has saved an estimated 50 million lives, according to the fund, while reducing deaths from the three diseases by more than half in the low- and middle-income countries where it operates.
“To defeat HIV, TB and malaria, we need innovations, and we need to ensure they reach the people who most need them. This scale of funding and the commitment of the private sector’s expertise will help us transform millions of lives,” said Peter Sands, the Global Fund's executive director. “Our partners are showing incredible leadership. We will not defeat these diseases without the private sector continuing to step up.”
Impact of COVID-19
Even before the pandemic hit in early 2020, progress against HIV, TB and malaria had fallen off track to reach targets of ending the three diseases as epidemics by 2030.
Now, the pandemic has knocked the fund's progress even further off course. Critical testing, treatment and prevention services for HIV, TB and malaria have declined as deaths from TB and malaria have increased.
“In 2022, the world faces unprecedented global health challenges. New pandemics like COVID-19, along with climate change and increased conflict, are increasing health risks for the most vulnerable,” the fund said in a summary of its fund-raising goals.
“To get back on track in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, build resilient and sustainable systems for health and strengthen global health security," it said, "we need to raise at least US$18 billion for the Seventh Replenishment.”
The fund raises money in advance of each three-year grant cycle at replenishment conferences when donors formally pledge their intended contributions. The Seventh Replenishment Conference's fundraising haul is to be used in the 2023-2025 cycle.
The private sector
Industry is at the core of the Geneva-based fund's partnership programs, and has been a key contributor since its creation.
“The Global Fund takes the power of private sector innovation and expertise and rapidly scales access to new solutions for the most vulnerable people, fast-tracks progress in key priority areas, and builds domestic capacity in the countries in which we invest,” said Sherwin Charles, a Global Fund board member representing the private sector and CEO of Goodbye Malaria, which pledged US$5.5 million.
Since 2002, private sector partners including corporations, foundations, and philanthropists have committed more than US$3.6 billion to the fund, including US$1.13 billion at the last replenishment conference in 2019.
The Global Fund’s US$18 billion goal was a nearly 30% increase from what it raised in its previous replenishment. Some were concerned that this year's fundraising might be impacted by the global drain on humanitarian and health aid due to the pandemic, Russia’s continuing war in Ukraine, escalating energy costs and a global economic downturn.
The White House said it applauded "all government donors who contributed robustly to support the lifesaving work of the Global Fund."
Among the fund's core donors, France gave nearly €1.6 billion (US$1.58 billion), Germany €1.3 billion (US$1.28 billion), Canada $1.21 billion Canadian (US$900 million), Japan US$1.08 billion, and the European Commission €715 million (US$706 million) — all increasing their pledges since the last replenishment. Two major donors, the United Kingdom and Italy, have delayed pledging donations.
South Korea quadrupled its commitment to US$100 million and Kenya increased its pledge by two-thirds to US$10 million.
This story has been updated with additional details.