29 November 2017
MADRID – The government of Spain today announced an agreement to waive debts owed by Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia in exchange for investments in domestic health programs supported by the Global Fund.
Signed under the Global Fund’s Debt2Health initiative, the accords will allow Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia to invest a total of 15.5 million euros of their national resources in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and to strengthen health systems. In exchange, Spain will cancel outstanding debts amounting to 36 million euros.
The announcement was made by Spain’s Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and shows Spain’s commitment to global health.
Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations of the Global Fund, said the agreement reinvigorates the partnership between the government of Spain and the Global Fund.
“We are delighted that Spain has joined the Debt2Health initiative,” Dr. Benn said during a signing ceremony held in Madrid.
“Debt2Health is an innovative and powerful mechanism that allows countries to turn debt payments into programs that save lives. Reaching our goal of ending AIDS, TB and malaria as epidemics requires a close partnership between implementing countries, countries that are ready to provide additional financial resources such as Spain, and a multilateral organization such as the Global Fund that can act as a catalyst.”
Debt2Health is an innovative financing mechanism that is designed to encourage domestic financing in health by converting debt repayments into lifesaving investments in health. Under individually negotiated ‘debt swap’ agreements, a creditor nation foregoes repayment of a loan when the beneficiary nation agrees to invest part or all of the freed-up resources into a Global Fund-supported program. To date, debts swapped under Debt2Health agreements total close to 200 million euros with the support of Australia, Germany and Spain.
Specifically, the agreement announced in Madrid will allow Cameroon to invest 9.3 million euros in HIV programs; the Democratic Republic of Congo to invest US$3.4 million in malaria programs; and Ethiopia to invest 3.2 million euros to strengthen its health system.
By cancelling the debts through the Debt2Health program, Spain is assured that the mobilized funds go directly to country-led programs as part of the respective national health strategies, which are supported and monitored by the Global Fund partnership.
Spain is a historic partner of the Global Fund and has played an important role since its creation, investing more than US$700 million in the Global Fund.