New directions for an old journey

Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development 12 April 2013

This week I had the pleasure to host a preparatory meeting between donors of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The meeting was held for two very good reasons: to assess the fund's impact on people in poor countries; and to review the progress made on reforms.

The Global Fund has achieved impressive results in limiting the spread of these three pandemics. However, we are by no means near the end of our journey. Just one example: The number of people dying of AIDS-related causes fell to 1.7 million in 2011, from 2.2 million in the mid-2000s. But 1.7 million deaths are still far too many.

The conference was an opportunity for everyone to reflect on our work so far. When the detection of misuse of funds was exposed in 2010, I suspended payments to safeguard taxpayers’ money. I know we took the right decision, since it helped trigger the impressive reforms that are now nearing completion. I am very pleased to see that the Board has endorsed a new funding model that targets resources to those countries most in need. It has also reorganised to be more efficient, better in grant management, and more aligned to its core task as a financing institution.

As I pointed out during the meeting, the time has certainly come for us to step up our efforts to leverage additional resources. I have encouraged new public donors and the private sector to complement the contributions from traditional public donors, in order to make the fund the truly unique public-private partnership it was designed to be.

There are some encouraging examples, such as the recent pledge of Saudi-Arabia and other new donors. But I would also like to applaud those countries that are taking over the financing of their disease programmes when Global Fund grants run out – China being among them.

From our side, I have made it clear that the European Commission will provide, as promised, €330 million between 2011 and 2013. And we do this with greater confidence now that we have a Global Fund that is back on track. The amount of funding for the next period will be decided later this year, once we know more about the EU budget to take us from 2014 through to 2020. Whatever the outcome, the Global Fund will remain an important instrument for the EU in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in poor countries.