Global Fund Replenishment Meeting Ends with Massive Funding Shortfall; Lives Hang in the Balance

At the conclusion replenishment meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today in New York, donors fell far short of investing the $20 billion needed to fully fund the fight against the three pandemics. Instead of the doubling of funding commitments needed to accelerate HIV, TB and malaria program scal-up, countries announced initial increases averaging approximately 25 percent — or, in the case of some donors, did not pledge at all. This shortfall, unless corrected, will mean that the Global Fund will have to reject high quality country proposals, and dramatically slow down the pace of scaling up.

The pledges and projections announced today for 2011–2013 add up to $11.687 billion. Unless corrected, the $8.3 billion funding shortfall will result in millions of deaths that could be easily prevented, and could reverse the gains made in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. “An investment of $11.7 is disappointing to me and many others who depend on the Global Fund for our lives,” said Michael Gwaba of Community Initiative for TB, AIDS and Malaria (CITAM+) in Zambia. “The economic crisis cannot excuse underfunding health programs at such a critical moment.”

Without a fully replenished Global Fund, at least 3.1 million people in need of life saving HIV treatment and more than 2.9 million in need of TB treatment will not have access. More than 490,000 mothers will not be provided with the treatment to prevent transmission of HIV to their newborns. A fully funded Global Fund could virtually halt mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015.

This morning, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pointed out that, without a fully funded Global Fund, the world is at risk of backsliding in the fight against the three diseases.

“If we lose the ground we have gained, we will be back to square one – all that effort and investment, lost. The decisions you make here today will determine the outcome,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

“The devastation of AIDS has not stopped because of the financial crisis,” said Shiba Phurailatpam, regional coordinator of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (ANP+). “Our brothers and sisters around the world are waiting desperately for the scale up of treatment and prevention programs. It is unacceptable that the Global Fund is being starved for resources even while rich countries found trillions of dollars to bail out an irresponsible financial sector. For a fraction of a percent of the funding raised to bail out the banks, we could save lives and fully fund the Global Fund.”

“In South Africa many people have been saved by the HIV and TB treatment programs supported by the Global Fund,” said Nkhensani Mavasa, community health advocacy coordinator from South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). “But now I’m afraid of what this will mean for South Africa, for the lives that we are going to lose, for the children who will be needlessly born with HIV, and for implementation of our national plan for universal access. I’m afraid — and I’m angry. We have the leadership in South Africa — but where is the accountability? Donor countries have money, why not invest donor resources where they can have the biggest impact saving people’s lives?”

“Research breakthroughs and evidence from the ground show we are poised to make huge wins in the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria,” said Joanne Carter, a Board Member of the Global Fund representing Developed Country NGOs. “Failing to fully fund the Global Fund will mean failing to turn the tide on the epidemics. This would be a tragic waste of a critical opportunity and it will only cost more down the line. This initial replenishment meeting must only be the first step in a process to achieve full funding.”

Civil society organizations are calling on donors to make use of annual pledging opportunities during the 2011–2013 replenishment period, in order to urgently close the funding gap.