The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate all aspects of life this past year – tragically claiming millions of lives, straining health systems and worsening existing inequalities. For the first time in the Global Fund’s 20-year history, progress was lost in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. However, despite this grim backdrop, the Global Fund continued to fight back and deliver.
Years of experience fighting HIV, TB and malaria prepared many countries to respond to COVID-19, preventing an even worse outcome. The Global Fund remained the primary provider of non-vaccine tools to fight the pandemic – providing a steady lifeline of tests, medical oxygen and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect health care workers in more than 100 countries around the world.
The Global Fund partnership marked a number of key milestones this year, including the partnership's 20th anniversary, which provided an opportunity to reflect on the tremendous progress made over two decades and the huge challenges that lay ahead. As the year comes to an end, we revisit some of the most pivotal moments for the Global Fund partnership in 2021 and look ahead to the Seventh Replenishment next year.
JANUARY - Rosemary, a veteran community health worker in Nairobi, Kenya, spent 18 years fighting HIV and TB. With the arrival of COVID-19, her work became even more vital and demanding. Rosemary’s story is a reminder of the incredible sacrifices health workers from around the world continued to make this year – putting themselves at risk to protect others from the world’s deadliest diseases.
JANUARY - This year marked 15 years since Bono and Bobby Shriver founded (RED) – an organization that has engaged with some of the world's most iconic brands in the fight to end AIDS. Profits from the sale of (RED)-branded products and experiences have generated more than US$650 million for Global Fund grants, benefiting more than 180 million people in Africa. We were delighted to highlight some of the key moments that marked this important movement.
FEBRUARY - This year the Global Fund and partners paid tribute to the condom, the only contraceptive that fights HIV, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies at the same time. The Global Fund and UNFPA are the largest public sector procurers of condoms in the world – having shipped more than 3.9 billion male and female condoms to 122 countries in just four years.
MARCH - After 50 years of commitment, a lot of hard work and community leadership, El Salvador became the first country in Central America to be certified malaria-free. To mark this important achievement, health workers and malaria volunteers from across the country shared their insights on the work that went into ending the disease as well as the efforts needed to ensure it does not return.
MARCH - COVID-19 has been particularly devastating on the fight against TB, with many of the resources used to fight the disease diverted to fight COVID-19. But this year the Global Fund supported a number of innovative programs to protect progress made in the fight against TB. In India, home to the world’s highest TB burden, resources were invested into fighting both diseases at the same time, with tremendous success.
APRIL - The fight against malaria is one of humanity’s biggest public health successes, but the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to derail hard-won gains. This year in the face of unprecedented challenges, global health partners and communities became more agile and innovative, adapting lifesaving programs to reach vulnerable people despite the global pandemic.
MAY - In the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, a team of global health advocates and leaders carried the Olympic torch through Okinawa, Japan, lighting the way for a world free from HIV, TB, malaria and COVID-19. Torch bearers Morimitsu Touma, Joy and Noriyuki Ishiyama represented the millions of people taking part in the fight against infectious diseases around the world.
JUNE - The Global Fund celebrated its 20th anniversary this year – an important milestone to recognize the heroes who have led the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and the significant progress made in ending the three diseases. Throughout the year we received messages of support from friends and partners highlighting the most pivotal moments of the last two decades of this groundbreaking partnership.
JULY - This year marked 40 years since the first cases of HIV were reported. To reflect on the fight against AIDS, Dr. Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, director of the Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management, shared her insights on her personal fight against the disease and what needs to be done to end HIV as an epidemic by 2030.
JULY - The COVID-19 pandemic continued to highlight the vital role of strong health systems and their critical role in ensuring tools like tests, treatments, and vaccines are deployed efficiently, and health workers are able to safely do their work. The Global Fund has invested in resilient and sustainable systems for health for the last two decades, which now underpin COVID-19 responses and will help prepare countries for future health threats.
JULY - Earlier this year a large shipment of some 648,000 COVID-19 tests arrived in South Africa. The tests, which can detect COVID-19 in under 15 minutes, are a crucial tool for health workers on the front lines, as they don’t require a laboratory to obtain results. Hear from the men and women in the warehouse on the hard work involved in getting the tests delivered to the community and the people who need them most.
SEPTEMBER - The Global Fund’s annual Results Report revealed the catastrophic impact COVID-19 has had on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. For the first time in the Global Fund’s 20-year history, key programmatic results declined. This included a decrease in the number of people on TB treatment and significant declines in HIV treatment and prevention programs for vulnerable groups. But the report also highlighted that the Global Fund’s determined and rapid response prevented an even worse outcome.
OCTOBER - The Global Fund announced that it had awarded US$4 billion to more than 100 low- and middle-income countries to fight COVID-19, adapt HIV, TB and malaria programs, and urgently reinforce fragile systems for delivering health services. The funding was in addition to the over US$4.2 billion a year provided to countries to fight HIV, TB and malaria. This important achievement was made possible thanks to the support of donors led by the United States, followed by Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
OCTOBER - The Global Fund, with partners Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the global health agency Unitaid, welcomed the WHO recommendation for wider routine use of the world’s first malaria vaccine. Global Fund Executive Director Peter Sands reminded the world that the vaccine will be most impactful when used with existing tools such as mosquito nets and that additional resources are needed to ensure its wide deployment in countries that need it most.
NOVEMBER - After extensive consultations with civil society representatives from around the world, the Global Fund Board approved the new Global Fund Strategy: Fighting Pandemics and Building a Healthier and More Equitable World. The 2023 to 2028 Strategy places people and communities front and center in the fight against HIV, TB, malaria and accelerates the shift to more integrated, people-centered models of prevention, treatment and care.
NOVEMBER - The year ended with an exciting announcement – President Joe Biden's decision to host the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference in the United States in the second half of 2022. The Seventh Replenishment, taking place in a challenging global health landscape, will secure pledges to fund grants from 2024 to 2026, which corresponds to the first half of the new Global Fund Strategy.
DECEMBER - To mark this past World AIDS Day, the Global Fund highlighted the inequalities and inequities that continue to fuel the HIV epidemic. Globally, key populations and their partners make up 62% of new HIV infections – in Eastern Europe and Central Asia they account for 99%. The Global Fund invests in programs that reach these communities – and was proud to share the stories of some of the people delivering services and fighting inequality to end AIDS in Ukraine.