Fighting HIV, TB, Malaria and COVID-19

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, deaths from HIV, TB and malaria could as much as double as a knock-on impact of COVID-19, as health and community systems are overwhelmed, treatment and prevention programs are disrupted, and resources are diverted.

The Global Fund made more than US$1 billion available to countries as part of our immediate response. Our partnership urgently needs US$5 billion to continue to fight COVID-19, protect front-line health workers, reinforce systems for health so they don’t collapse and so they are prepared to roll out treatments and vaccines once available, and defend progress against HIV, TB and malaria in the countries where we invest.

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 in the next year, wiping out years of progress, if we do not act decisively.

The fights against COVID-19, HIV, TB and malaria are one and the same fight.

Decisive action

The Global Fund reacted decisively to the emergence of COVID-19, quickly making available more than 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. Our immediate response comprised the COVID-19 Response Mechanism and grant flexibilities. However, additional funding is critical.

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The Global Fund urgently needs US$5 billion to continue to fight COVID-19, protect health workers and systems for health, and defend progress against HIV, TB and malaria in the countries where we invest.

The Global Fund / John Rae

Our 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, and so they are ready to roll out treatments and vaccines once available
  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).

A proven model to fight infectious disease and save lives

The Global Fund is the world’s trusted, proven partnership fighting major infectious disease at scale around the world.

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 requires 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.

In the fight against COVID-19, we must unite to leave no one behind – because it’s the right thing to do, and because everyone’s safety depends on it.

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker

Uniting to fight

Around the world, people are uniting to fight. Health workers, governments, communities, 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