LONDON, UK: Former leaders of Commonwealth countries have penned an open letter in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, calling on their governments to ensure it has the necessary resources to tackle the three killer diseases at the Fund’s replenishment conference later this year.
The letter, signed by 13 former leaders of Commonwealth nations, comes as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting begins in Rwanda, and warns that the global effort to beat AIDS, TB and malaria is off track.
In order to reclaim the losses of the past two years, as well as seize the opportunity to tip the balance towards progress, they announce support for the Global Fund’s call for Governments to deliver a 30% increase on the previous replenishment in 2019.
The letter highlights how we are at a crucial juncture in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria: “We are close to finishing the fight against these killer diseases, and face a choice. We can either invest in something that works or we can allow progress against three of the biggest killers in human history to be lost.”
If fully-funded then the Global Fund, which has helped save 44 million lives to date since it was created in 2002, is predicted to help save a further 20 million people over a three-year period.
It will support the building of more effective health systems that are better able to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, and will also boost pandemic preparedness, so that the world – especially developing countries – are better equipped to deal with emerging health threats.
Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi and Member of Club de Madrid said:
“The world must rise to the occasion and commit bold support to the fight against these killer diseases. The Commonwealth, as a unique and tight-knit group which contains countries from all corners of the globe, is the ideal voice to show that there is international pressure for a successful Global Fund replenishment.”
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, former President of Malta and Member of Club de Madrid said:
“As we gradually leave behind the harsh realities of a pandemic, we cannot neglect three other killer communicable diseases, AIDS, TB and Malaria. The countries of the Commonwealth must rise to the occasion and be advocates for the successful replenishment of the Global Fund, to accelerate the eradication of AIDS, TB and malaria, and build stronger and more resilient health systems to fight any potential future pandemics.”
James Michel, former President of the Seychelles and Club de Madrid member said:
“The world should not be losing lives to diseases that are curable with early diagnosis and with the prompt and correct treatment. We are all too aware of the consequences so let us use this opportunity to show bold leadership, solidarity and cooperation towards this cause by doing the right thing to create a fairer, safer and healthier world.”
The letter was coordinated by a group of NGOs working together including the ONE Campaign, STOPAIDS and Club de Madrid. It follows concerns expressed by over 350 civil society organisations about the need for countries to meet the target 30% increase in funding, shared in a letter to the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary on 16th June.
Romilly Greenhill, UK Director at ONE, said:
“For this replenishment we need all countries to step up – not step back – in order to end these three diseases for good.
Countries such as the US and Germany have already stepped up. The UK must follow suit and not waver in this critical moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Failure to get this right will leave another generation of children growing up in the shadow of the three biggest killers in human history, and reduce our ability to fight other health threats.”
Mike Podmore, Director of STOPAIDS, said:
“Failure to meet the Global Fund’s replenishment target would risk decades of progress made against these diseases. These former heads of government raise their voices at what is a critical juncture in this fight; after the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to strengthen health systems, particularly to fight current and future pandemics.
For the UK, this means not abandoning its track record of leadership in support of the Global Fund, to step away now would also risk leaving matched funding from the US on the table – further impacting the global response.”
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- The Global Fund 7th Replenishment Investment Case calls for at least US$18 billion, the minimum required to get the global response back on track toward ending these epidemics by 2030.
- The Global Fund is also funded by private sector donors. At the recent World Economic Forum, Comic Relief US pledged US$10 million, with US$20 million in matched funding from the Gates Foundation.
Full list of signatories to the letter:
David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, 2010 – 2016
Gordon Brown*, UK Prime Minister, 2007 – 2010
J. Patterson*, Prime Minister of Jamaica, 1992 – 2006
Joyce Banda*, President of Malawi, 2012 – 2014
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca*, President of Malta, 2014 – 2019
Cassam Uteem*, President of Mauritius, 1992 – 2002
Helen Clark*, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 1999 – 2008
John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 2008 – 2016
Jenny Shipley*, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 1997 – 1999
Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, 1988 – 1992
James Michel*, President of the Seychelles, 2004 – 2016
Kgalema Motlanthe, President of South Africa, 2008 – 2009
Chandrika Kumaratunga*, President of Sri Lanka, 1994 – 2005
*denotes the signatory is a Member of Club de Madrid, the forum of democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers.
Full text of the open letter here:
To current leaders of Commonwealth Nations,
The world faces challenges best when we face them together. As former leaders of Commonwealth countries, we are writing in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
The Global Fund holds its seventh replenishment later this year, and will ask countries for a 30% increase from the previous round in 2019. This is an ambitious request, especially given the economic strain people are feeling in the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Any intervention has to justify itself, and the Global Fund does this. This uplift is necessary to reclaim the lost gains from COVID19, accelerate the gains to ending AIDS, TB and malaria, and build stronger and more resilient health systems to fight future pandemics.
The $18bn the Global Fund is asking for will help save 20 million lives over three years. This investment is essential, as we face a crucial juncture in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria, and for global health security as a whole.
The world must address the damage caused by COVID-19. There were significant cost increases and huge disruption to prevention and testing across all three diseases in 2020 and 2021. These losses need to be reversed, and progress towards ending AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030 and meeting the SDGs must be accelerated. Allowing these diseases to move faster than our response risks millions of lives.
As the past two years have shown, we need to build stronger and more resilient health systems to fight future pandemics. The Global Fund currently invests $1bn a year in this area and plans to double this to $2bn over the period 2023-26. This will enable the Fund to support countries build more effective health systems that are better able to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. A fully funded Global Fund will play a central part in stopping the next pandemic before it stops us.
The Global Fund’s record speaks for itself, having saved 44 million lives since its creation in 2002, with many of these in Commonwealth countries. We are close to finishing the fight against these killer diseases, and face a choice. We can either invest in something that works or we can allow progress against three of the biggest killers in human history to be lost.
As Commonwealth countries meet, we must show our support for renewed investment in global health. We call on the current leaders of our countries to renew their commitment to an initiative that has played a key role in the health of our countries, for a better, safer, and healthier world for all. Current world events can feel overwhelming, but the Global Fund’s achievements remind us that today’s challenges can be tomorrow’s history.