Global Health Security

The Global Fund / Nana Kofi Acquah

Investments in global health are critical to keep communities safe from infectious diseases including HIV, TB and malaria, and to help fight new health threats like COVID-19. Diseases know no borders and the COVID-19 pandemic makes clear that our global health security is only as strong as the world’s weakest health system.

Making the world safer for everyone also means finishing the fights we haven’t yet won, such as the ones against HIV, TB and malaria – infectious diseases that kill 2.7 million people every year.

Building resilient and sustainable systems for health

Sustainable and resilient systems for health are the world’s first line of defense against new epidemics like COVID-19, and the fight against the existing epidemics of HIV, TB and malaria. The Global Fund is the largest multilateral investor in grants for health systems, investing US$1 billion a year to build resilient and sustainable systems for health – from training of health personnel to improved supply chain and data quality to service delivery integration. The systems for health we build to fight HIV, TB and malaria are also needed to fight COVID-19.

Fighting antimicrobial resistance

As we respond to COVID-19, we must not neglect other global health threats. For example, drug-resistant TB is airborne, makes up one third of all global deaths from antimicrobial resistance, and is increasing every year. Antimicrobial resistance – when organisms develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs – is one of the biggest threats to our future global health and economic security. Deaths from drug-resistant TB account form about one third of all antimicrobial resistance deaths worldwide. The Global Fund provides 69% of international financing for TB and is a major source of funding for the drug-resistant TB response in low- and middle-income countries.

In the Greater Mekong, the Global Fund and partners are supporting a regional grant to tackle the emergence of drug-resistant malaria, which threatens a devastating setback for the region and a major shock to health security. The Global Fund is also putting a bigger focus on resistance to HIV drugs, expanding the newest treatment regimens that are more effective, cheaper, and less prone to inciting resistance.

In today’s world, every country is vulnerable to new and drug-resistant “superbugs.” Fighting antimicrobial resistance is a way of improving global health security.

The economic costs of infectious diseases

As we are seeing with COVID-19, infectious diseases not only cause tragic deaths and suffering, but can have a serious impact on economies and can threaten development and stability. There are compelling economic reasons for ridding the world of HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics. Tackling epidemics and building robust systems for health fuels economic development, and in turn allows for greater investment in health, and moves us toward achieving universal health coverage.

  • The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people and resulted in US$2.8 billion in economic losses in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone alone.
  • It is predicted that drug-resistant TB will cost the global economy approximately US$17 trillion by 2050 if the problem is not addressed.
  • WHO estimates that US$4 trillion in economic gains would be generated by eliminating malaria by 2030.
Nichole Sobecki / VII for the Global Fund

Re-thinking global health security

A new approach to global health security must embrace a much broader notion of health security than we’ve typically used, writes the Global Fund Executive Director. It won’t work if it is only focused on pandemics, since every pandemic starts as a small outbreak.

Read more

Microbes do not stop at national borders, so an infectious disease threat anywhere is a threat everywhere. Making our world safer from epidemics means strengthening the capacity of countries to prevent, detect and respond effectively to current and emerging health threats.

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Focus on Global Health Security
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