WASHINGTON — The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria is currently facing a major financing shortfall.
While the Foreign Operations subcommittee provided a welcome increase over the President’s request, today’s markup suggests that the U.S. is going to fall far short of its commitment to fund fully its fair share of the Global Fund’s resource needs, while the global economic recession undermines countries’ efforts to fight the three diseases.
The lives of about as many people as live in all of Washington, DC are at stake as well as the credibility of the U.S. – which promised the world to support the Global Fund.
The Financial Crisis is already undermining the fight against AIDS. A World Bank report recently detailed how it could place the treatment of more than 1.7 million at risk by year’s end. Tanzania announced that it planned to cut its national HIV/AIDS budget by 25 percent, and similar moves by Kenya and Sudan have already caused shortages of medical supplies in some areas.
The House Numbers suggest the U.S. will fall far short of its commitments at exactly the wrong time. The U.S. and all G8 countries committed to scale up the Global Fund to a size of $6 to $8 billion by 2010 in order to reach the global goal of universal access to AIDS treatment, anti-malaria bed nets, and tuberculosis services. Despite these commitments, President Obama failed to request an increase in Global Fund funding, and the House has included only $700 million in its foreign operations subcommittee mark. Combined with the President’s budget of $300 million in Labor-HHS, this means flat-funding the Global Fund at the same $1 billion from last year at the very moment when the U.S.’ expected contribution should be between $2 and $2.7 billion.
Under a new Congress and Administration – with a commitment to multilateralism – this would be the first year the Global Fund has ever been flat-funded, and the furthest away from our fair share that the U.S. has ever been.
Without the U.S. doing its part…
It is likely there will be no new Global Fund funding in 2010 – abruptly halting country plans to avert millions of deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
The current 2009 9th funding Round will be billions short. Applications were submitted ahead of the June 1 deadline–with countries expecting that donors would fulfill their promises. In November, without more funding, the Global Fund Board will have to make untenable decisions:
* Approximately $3 billion in new proposals is expected, in addition to $400 million in innovative new national strategy applications.
* This will leave a $2.5 billion gap for 2009 applications alone since, at these levels and given last year’s underfunding, only $1 billion will be available for all future funding Rounds.
New strategies, for example innovative efforts to strengthen health systems through funding results-based national health sector strategies and save the lives of women and girls through smart gender strategies will be impossible to implement–leaving millions at risk.
The decision has very real implications in lives lost. The first $7 billion invested in the Global Fund saved an estimated 3.5 million lives. At this rate, the extra $1 billion to $1.7 billion needed from the U.S. would result in 500,000 lives saved–roughly the size of the population of Washington, DC.