Over 100 Ukrainian public health organisations call for Liz Truss to increase UK investment in The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Groups warn that the impact of conflict and reduced funding could jeopardise hard-fought progress in the fight against infectious diseases
In a letter to the Prime Minister, 108 civil society organisations from Ukraine have said that the UK must increase funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) by 30% at the Fund’s replenishment conference on 21st September.
Signatories say that throughout the conflict the Global Fund continues to provide life-saving HIV and TB treatment to over 140,000 patients and key prevention services to 170,000 the most vulnerable people. They add that due to the damage to infrastructure, rising poverty and falling GDP, greater support is needed.
The Global Fund’s 7th replenishment is now underway in New York, with governments who are yet to pledge expected to announce their investments on 21st September.
The Global Fund needs USD $18 billion to save 20 million lives by 2026, avert 459 million infections and get the global response to the three diseases back on track.
Yana Panfilova, Founder of Teenergizer and a signatory to the letter, said:
“Even before the war there was a high HIV and tuberculosis disease burden in Ukraine, but thanks to the Global Fund we now have seen AIDS-related deaths drop by 65% in the last 20 years, a huge achievement.
The UK has been a staunch ally of our fight against the Russian invasion but Russia must not only lose this war, Ukraine must be rebuilt and our people’s right to good health be secured.
It would be hugely unjust for our people to survive Russian bullets and bombs, only to die from preventable diseases. I urge Prime Minister Truss to continue bold UK leadership and join global allies who have also increased their pledges to the Global Fund.”
Mike Podmore, Director of STOPAIDS, said:
“As a co-founder and leading donor to the Global Fund, it would be disastrous for the UK to step back from its historic leadership at a time when bold, decisive action is needed to get us back on track to eliminating these diseases by 2030.
With other donors stepping up their pledges, a failure of the UK to join them would send a concerning signal to allies about the role Liz Truss’ Government will play on the international stage.
Moreover, the impact will be felt deeply by vulnerable and key populations at risk, including young women and girls who often bear the brunt of these diseases. It will mean fewer lives saved, more transmissions of these diseases, and therefore a further burden on health systems.”
- The letter was organised by the Ukrainian Public Health Alliance.
- The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was founded in 2002 and has since saved over 50 million lives. Key results are in its 2022 Results Report.
- The $18 billion replenishment target would save 20 million lives by 2026 and avert over 450 million infections of HIV, TB and malaria, according to the Investment Case.
- Japan, Germany and the U.S. have all already increased their pledges to the Global Fund by 30% from 2019.
- The U.S. has pledged $6 billion. Due to the U.S. legally only being able to fund one-third of the total replenishment, other donors must step up to ensure the remaining $12 billion is pledged, failure to do so will leave matched funding from the U.S. on the table and reduce the overall U.S. pledge.
- UNAIDS has warned in its 2022 report that the global AIDS response is ‘in danger’ and without significant investment global targets to end the disease by 2030 will be missed.
STOPAIDS is a UK-based HIV, health and rights network. We draw on our 35-year experience working on the HIV response to support UK and global movements to challenge systemic barriers and inequalities so that we can end AIDS and support people around the world to realise their right to good health and wellbeing.
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TEXT OF THE LETTER SENT TO LIZ TRUSS
Dear Ms Truss,
We represent over 100 civil society organizations implementing HIV/TB related activities in Ukraine.
We are so grateful that you stand in solidarity with Ukraine, and with our cause, supporting our country, calling on the international community to increase their support, and supporting those of us that seek protection in your country. We also remain grateful to you as a personal champion of the rights, freedoms and opportunities of young women and girls; including those affected by sexual violence in Ukraine.
We also know the British Government, as the third largest partner to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, has been a long-standing leader in support of the activities of our organisations.
We therefore would like to take the opportunity to explain to you what the Global Fund support concretely means to us.
Even before the war, Ukraine had a high HIV and TB disease burden, but our country had also made remarkable achievements in combatting HIV and TB with the help of partners like the Global Fund. AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 65% in Ukraine since the Global Fund was founded 20 years ago. But progress has not been even and inequalities continue to fuel the HIV epidemic. This is particularly true for the groups that are most likely to be exposed to HIV and whose participation in fighting the disease is vital in ending the epidemic; sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, transgender people, and men who have sex with men. This is especially the case in Ukraine.
For TB, the incidence rate fell steadily between 2015 and 2020, from 91 to 73 cases per 100,000 population, according to WHO data. ART coverage among people living with both TB and HIV increased from 65% in 2015 to 91% in 2020. However, the prevalence and mortality level of TB remain high in our country and drug-resistant TB remains a public health threat.
That is why, even before the conflict, the support of the Global Fund was so important.
The Global Fund has supported Ukraine with US$135.7 million to fight HIV and TB in the country over the 2020-2022 period and US$54.5 million for the country’s COVID-19 response – totaling nearly US$190 million. In March 2022, the Global Fund approved US$15 million in emergency funding to support the continuity of HIV and TB prevention, testing and treatment services in Ukraine.
We are partner organizations to the Global Fund that carry out critical work to strengthen health care and community systems and ensure patients have ongoing access to prevention, testing and treatment for HIV and TB. This includes funding for:
- Generators for regional laboratories where power supplies are limited or at risk.
- Retrofitting vans to deliver essential medicines and supplies.
- Community-led organizations to support affected and displaced members of their communities and link them to HIV and TB services.
- Work to help patients displaced in Ukraine and nearby countries get reconnected to the health care and medicine they need.
- Providing food and care packages for TB and HIV patients.
- Funding legal support for communities and displaced people.
- Locating appropriate accommodation for patients with infectious conditions like multidrug-
- Providing funding for additional mental health services, with a particular focus on support for
women who have suffered sexual violence as a result of the war.
While acknowledging huge increase in health-related risks, with support of the Global Fund, during the war time Ukraine continues to provide life-saving HIV and TB treatment to over 140,000 patients and key prevention services to 170,000 the most vulnerable people. We have even more challenges ahead, with the destroyed infrastructure, growing poverty and decreasing GDP in Ukraine. In the context of all challenges brought by the war, Ukraine needs even more support in the future for prevention, diagnostics and treatment.
We are also standing in solidarity with communities in other parts of the world that are sharing our struggle. We are in a global fight against these diseases. This is a time when we need supporting countries to uphold their global investments. We therefore hope that you will strongly support the upcoming Seventh Replenishment. To be able to address the setbacks and get back on track to end AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria as epidemics by 2030, the Global Fund Investment Case for the seventh replenishment calls for a total of at least US$18 billion in 2023-2025, a 30% increase from the 2019 funding target. The U.S., Japan and Germany have shown leadership by increasing their pledges and now we need continued global leadership from the UK Government.
We therefore hope and ask that, as you begin your premiership, that you will help the Global Fund to fulfil these needs; and make a 30% increased pledge for the coming three years.
This would mean an additional £140 million per year from current investments. We know there are several competing funding priorities. It’s a large ask, but we also know that you and your country really understand our fight and do not want to jeopardise hard-fought global progress in the fight against infectious disease. The target of USD 18 billion will allow to save 20 million more lives and get the world back on track in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria by averting 450 million new cases and strengthening health systems.
We are deeply grateful for your support. Our country will never forget the support of the United Kingdom at our time of greatest need and how this support delivered for our security, our democracy, our health and our future.
This is a fight we should win!
Key contact on behalf of 108 Ukrainian organisations:
Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director, Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine