COVID-19 Urgent Mitigation Plan

Hugues Ahounou / Catholic Relief Services

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the extraordinary gains made by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria partnership in the fight against the three epidemics. In 2020 we will likely see increases in deaths and new infections across all three diseases for the first time in many years as health and community systems are overwhelmed, treatment and prevention programs are disrupted, and resources are diverted.

The Global Fund has made up to US$1 billion available to countries as part of our immediate response. We are confident that by leveraging existing systems and processes, we could deploy a further US$5 billion over the next 12 months responsibly and effectively, and that by doing so, we would save millions of lives from both the direct impact of COVID-19 itself and the knock-on impact on HIV, TB and malaria.

COVID-19 threatens progress in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria

The stakes are extraordinarily high. In 2018, deaths from HIV, TB and malaria together amounted to 2.4 million people worldwide – roughly half the death toll of the peak of the epidemics, but still a shocking figure. Analyses from WHO, UNAIDS, the Stop TB Partnership and others suggest this annual death toll across the three diseases could nearly double, wiping out years of progress, if we do not act decisively.

The Global Fund’s role in the global response

Given its role as the world’s largest multilateral investor in grants for health systems and its focus on fighting infectious diseases and strengthening health systems, the Global Fund is uniquely positioned to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate the knock-on impact on HIV, TB and malaria. In alignment with WHO’s overall leadership and coordination of the global COVID-19 response, the Global Fund’s has adopted a four-pronged response to the pandemic:

  1. Adapt HIV, TB and malaria programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and safeguard progress
  2. Protect front-line health workers through the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training to front-line health staff, including community health workers
  3. Reinforce systems for health so they don’t collapse by supporting urgent enhancements, including to supply chains, laboratory networks and community-led response systems
  4. Fight COVID-19 by supporting control and containment interventions, including testing, tracing and the support of isolation, communications and treatment (as therapeutics become available).

To play its part in the response to COVID-19, the Global Fund would need an additional US$5 billion

The Global Fund / John Rae

The Global Fund reacted decisively to the emergence of COVID-19, quickly making available up to US$1 billion to support countries as they respond to the pandemic, adapt their HIV, TB and malaria programs, and reinforce their already overstretched health systems. However, funding is rapidly deployed, making additional funding critical.

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To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the countries most affected by HIV, TB and malaria, to save millions of lives, and to sustain momentum the Global Fund would need an additional US$5 billion for the next 12 months.

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COVID-19 report

Our report highlights the impact of COVID-19 and resources needed to protect progress against HIV, TB and malaria – diseases that still kill more than 2.4 million people a year.

Since 2002, the Global Fund partnership has helped save more than 32 million lives and cut HIV, TB and malaria deaths by nearly half since the peak of the epidemics. The COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to reverse that progress:

Report
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Summary
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The Global Fund is a proven model to fight infectious disease and save lives

As the world responds to COVID-19, we must adapt and leverage the strengths of the Global Fund, both to fight COVID-19 itself, and to mitigate the impact on HIV, TB and malaria. These strengths include:

  • Building resilient and sustainable systems for health
  • Community engagement
  • Fighting human rights and gender barriers to health
  • Private sector engagement
  • Effective procurement systems and economies of scale
  • Supply chain and logistics
  • Rigorous monitoring and well-established systems
  • Dedicated COVID-19 rapid response mechanism

Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator

Maintaining progress against the three diseases and fighting the new COVID-19 pandemic requires extensive collaboration with governments, technical partners, civil society, private sector, faith-based organizations and communities. The Global Fund is a founding partner of the ACT-Accelerator partnership to accelerate development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines.

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We must unite to fight

Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the countries most affected by HIV, TB and malaria will require swift action, extraordinary levels of leadership and collaboration, and significant extra resources. We must recognize that this is not just a fight against a single virus, but a fight to protect and save lives from multiple infectious diseases. We must fight this new fight, and we must sustain the unfinished fight against HIV, TB and malaria.

Saving people from dying from one infectious disease simply to have them die of another is not the result we want. Our goal must be to mitigate the total impact of COVID-19, including both the direct effects of the virus, and the knock-on impact on other diseases. In the fight against infectious diseases, no one is safe until we are all safe. Moreover, as in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, in the fight against COVID-19, we must leave no one behind.

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker

Uniting to fight

Around the world, people are uniting to fight. Health workers, governments, businesses, technical agencies, advocates and individuals are working together to continue the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, fight COVID-19 and save lives.

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“The stakes are extraordinarily high. The knock-on effects of COVID-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and other infectious diseases could be catastrophic. Mitigating that impact will require swift action, extraordinary levels of leadership and collaboration, and significant extra resources. Above all, we must leave no one behind.”
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund