The stagnation of international aid and the development of forms of resistant diseases can undermine progress.
The fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria needs to be stepped up if the international community wants to achieve its goal of eliminating these three pandemics by 2030, warns the leader of the Global Fund in an interview with AFP.
"To put it bluntly, we are not on the right track to realize this ambition"says Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, during a meeting with journalists in New Delhi. The Indian capital will organize a preparatory meeting on Friday, February 8, for the next triennial Global Fund financing conference to be held in October in Lyon.
The struggle against these three iconic diseases has already yielded remarkable successes. The number of deaths from AIDS and malaria has fallen by about half since the turn of the century. Tuberculosis, today the most deadly infectious disease in the world with 1.3 million deaths per year (excluding co-infections with HIV), was about 20% fewer deaths in 2016 than in 2000.
Mortality rate comparable to that of Ebola
But this progress is still too modest with a view to eliminating these epidemics by 2030, which the UN has identified: "If you compare the curve in terms of new infections and deaths with what we should have, we need to speed up the movement", warns Peter Sands, who arrived at the head of the organization last year. The risk of loosening the health authorities, the stagnation of international health aid and the development of resistant forms of disease can undermine progress and fear an upsurge in epidemics.
The Global Fund, established in 2002 as a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and the sick, is particularly concerned about cases of tuberculosis-fighting tuberculosis, estimated at 600,000 around the world. Multiresistant tuberculosis, with a 50% mortality rate comparable to that of Ebola, is diagnosed in only a quarter of the cases and is extremely difficult to treat and treat. For Sands, this is one of the most pressing threats to global health security.
In this context, the Global Fund aims for an increase of $ 14 billion (approximately € 12.3 billion) for the period 2020-2022, $ 1.8 billion more than the amount raised for 2017-2019. A budget that criticizes NGOs as clearly insufficient.
In Africa, a collaboration with Coca-Cola
In its action, the organization distinguishes itself by partnering with private companies that go beyond the simple gift, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of investment is concentrated. The multinational Unilever uses the reputation of its brand Dove hygiene products to bring about HIV prevention for teenagers and young women in South Africa, the most vulnerable populations of the virus.
In several African countries, the Global Fund also uses the strength and experience of the Coca-Cola liquor giant's distribution network to bring medicines to remote clinics. "In remote locations in most countries you can find a Coca-Cola, or not sometimes? Using their trucks, their supply chain, helps us transport drugs to places where people need them"says Sands.
Collaborations fairly original in this environment: "Partnership with the private sector is not necessarily natural for global health actors, there is a lot of distrust and misunderstanding" between the two, acknowledges Peter Sands, himself former CEO of the British Standard Chartered Bank.