The Board noted the continued progress in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria, but pointed to climate change, conflict and anti-LGBTQI+ legislation as dangers in the fight to end the three diseases.
12 May 2023
HA NOI – The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria held its 49th meeting on 10 and 11 May 2023 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, the first to take place in the Western Pacific region since 2007. The meeting was opened by Ms. Dao Hong Lan, Minister of Health of Viet Nam.
“The choice of Viet Nam for our Board meeting highlights the country’s incredible work in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and in building resilient and sustainable systems for health with the strong engagement of a vibrant civil society and dynamic communities,” said Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Chair of the Global Fund Board. “Viet Nam’s fight serves as an inspiration for other countries in the region and around the world. However, we meet at a critical time, as recent global colliding crises have highlighted the need for a strong, effective Global Fund able to address the needs of those most affected around the globe.”
The Board noted the strong progress against the three diseases in several parts of the world – including progress towards the 95-95-95 HIV targets in Eastern and Southern Africa, the success in fighting drug-resistant malaria in the Greater Mekong region, and the general bounce-back in TB services and metrics – and praised the Global Fund’s contribution to saving over 29 million lives over the 2017-2021 period. The Board also received an update on this year's disbursements in the current grant cycle, which are on track to surpass the record US$5.2 billion disbursed in 2022 and demonstrate the unprecedented scale, intensity and breadth of grant implementation efforts across the partnership.
Yet Board members expressed concern regarding the global health challenges that risk jeopardizing the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 objective of health and well-being for all. Climate change and increasing conflict and displacement are affecting the epidemiology and transmission of existing diseases, especially malaria, and increasing the risk that new ones could emerge. In addition, the sharp deterioration of LGBTQI+ rights in numerous countries over the last few months threatens to further impede access to health for communities who already face stigma and discrimination.
“Reducing stigma, discrimination and criminalization of key populations most affected by HIV is a prerequisite for beating AIDS,” said Lady Roslyn Morauta, Vice-Chair of the Global Fund Board. “Punitive laws will fuel the HIV epidemic and endanger the health of entire communities. This is why the Global Fund is committed to breaking down human rights-related barriers that undermine access to health services.”
The Board also stressed the urgent need to reinvigorate both political and technical leadership to address the increasing malaria risks related to climate change and drug or insecticide resistance and get back on track towards malaria elimination. Board members subsequently voted in favor of increasing risk appetite for malaria interventions while also urging continued vigilance against TB.
Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands echoed those concerns and urged strengthened partnerships between global players in the face of these current challenges. “We must win a better place for infectious diseases in the climate change agenda,” he said. “Malaria is the iconic example of how climate change is already affecting human health. Tackling malaria needs to be a central component of a more equitable global response to climate change.”
The Board discussed the economic trends and the fiscal pressures on many implementing countries that impact their ability to fund health services and urged partners to accelerate innovative financing solutions and drive ambitious yet realistic domestic health financing.
The Board also encouraged global partners to maintain the ambition of ending AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030, including by leveraging innovation and sustaining increased investments in health systems strengthening. To optimize the monitoring of progress towards ending the three diseases as public health threats and building resilient and sustainable systems for health, it approved several adjustments to the key performance indicator framework, including targets on HIV, TB and malaria incidence and mortality, for the Strategy implementation period towards 2030.
Highlighting the Global Fund’s central role in fighting pandemics – including through the reprogramming, since the last Board meeting in November 2022, of US$547 million [ download in English ] in funds from its COVID-19 response to support health systems strengthening and pandemic preparedness – Board members discussed the Global Fund’s engagement with various global health partners, including the new Pandemic Fund. They agreed that fighting HIV, TB and malaria and strengthening health and community systems must be central to preparing for and defeating future pandemics. They reinforced the need to coordinate funding more effectively for pandemic preparedness to achieve impact and reduce burdens on countries.
The Board also acknowledged the Office of the Inspector General annual opinion stating that nothing that would significantly compromise the overall achievement of the Global Fund’s strategic and operational objectives had been reported in 2022. Similarly, the Chief Ethics Officer deemed the state of ethics and integrity systems at the Global Fund to remain at least at the level of maturity reported previously, noting the Global Fund put in place in 2022 several measures designed to further strengthen organizational ethics. The Board reiterated its strong commitment to zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) and its support to the Global Fund’s determined work to put in place safeguards to prevent, detect and respond to SEAH in all the programs that it funds.
At the close of the meeting, Board members expressed deep gratitude to Board Chair Dr. Kaberuka and Vice-Chair Lady Morauta, praising their contributions over the past four years in their positions, completed at the conclusion of the meeting. Dr. Kaberuka was bestowed the honorary title of Chair Emeritus. The Board then warmly welcomed Lady Morauta as the new Board Chair and Bience Gawanas as the new Vice-Chair, both beginning a three-year term in their new respective functions.