Statement, Friends of the Global Fund Europe

September 20, 2021

“We have to ensure that the way the world thinks about protecting people from infectious diseases threats is inclusive, does include most marginalized communities, and doesn’t have a short memory. This is going to be a very live challenge for us all”, Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria [1].

 Friends of the Global Fund Europe are calling for the recognition of the central role that the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has to play in responding to current and future pandemics, reaffirming the need for a truly inclusive multilateralism and intensified action to fulfill the commitments to achieve SDG 3 and end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The US administration has called for a “COVID-19 Summit” on September 22nd, back-to-back with the UN General Assembly with the perspective of ending the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as possible and achieving global health security [2]. One of the targets that participants will be asked to endorse is the creation of a new financial instrument to ensure sustainable financing for health security.

We support the call of Friends of the Global Fight to have the Global Fund play a key role in future Pandemic Preparedness and Response mechanisms [3]. In supporting this call, Friends of the Global Fund Europe wish to highlight key principles to be taken into consideration in further decision-making:

  • Any attempt to strengthen the capacity of countries to respond to new epidemics must take the fight against existing ones as a starting point, while recognising that the progress made so far provides the backbone for future policies;
  • Pandemic response and preparedness cannot continue to prioritize infectious diseases that disproportionately kill people in wealthier countries while paying inadequate attention to those that mostly impact people from resource-limited countries. Global justice demands that we address the threats to everyone, but especially those living in low and middle-income countries and those in all countries who are marginalized, given their greater vulnerability;
  • Effective responses to pandemics must place communities, and the civil society organisations that give them voice, at their heart, ensuring that they are fully engaged in the development and implementation of policies at global, regional, national and local levels.

“It is a false choice between tackling existing pandemics and stopping future ones. Building on the Global Fund’s investments in resilient and sustainable health systems will help stop emerging and future pandemics while reinvigorating the fight against the pandemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria” declare US civil society organisations in their statement [4].

As we stand on the edge of a revision of the global health architecture, Friends of the Global Fund Europe recall their commitment to a truly inclusive multilateralism in Global Health, in particular by:

  • Fully engaging low-and-middle income countries in decisions about policies and funding;
  • Ensuring that any new instruments will include shared governance models, involving with implementing governments and civil society organisations and communities as equal partners, at all levels;
  • Considering equally population health, financial and security issues.

Finally, Friends of the Global Fund Europe point to the negative impact of COVID-19 on access to HIV prevention, malaria diagnosis services, and in tuberculosis treatment in 2020, the first backward step in 20 years of fighting against these three diseases [5].

The urgent reaction needed to reverse this backlash and to accelerate the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria must be on the agenda of the debates that are opening today.

Laurent Vigier, President of Friends of the Global Fund Europe affirms: “We cannot distract our efforts from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and the current reflections on Pandemic Preparedness and Response might help us find new ways to accelerate the fight against the three diseases. Both objectives are complementary.”

 

Notes:

[1] Friends of the Global Fund Europe’s 15th anniversary event, Geneva, September 2, 2021

[2] Statement by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on COVID-⁠19 Summit, September 17, 2021

[3] “The Global Fund: a foundation for Health Equity”: Call from US civil society organisations, September 9, 2021

[4] “The Global Fund: a foundation for Health Equity”: Call from US civil society organisations, September 9, 2021

[5] “Global Fund Results Report Reveals COVID-19 Devastating Impact on HIV, TB and Malaria Programs”, press release from the Global Fund, September 8, 2021