(Reuters) – At least $18 billion is needed to get the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS back on track from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health fund said on Wednesday.
The target for 2024-2026 is $4 billion more than the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria raised in its previous fund raising session in 2019.
The $18 billion aims to reverse setbacks in its global efforts on disease testing, prevention and treatment caused by the pandemic, the Geneva-based aid body said.
In September, the fund’s annual report for 2020 showed that the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis in the countries where it operates fell by 19% and HIV prevention programs declined by 11%.
Tuberculosis caused 1.5 million deaths in 2020 according to the World Health Organization. It was the biggest infectious disease killer annually pre-pandemic.
In 2021, there could be an improvement in the number of those being tested and treated for tuberculosis because many countries have made efforts to rebuild their TB services, said Peter Sands, executive director of the fund.
“But we will probably also see an increase in deaths because we will have the lagged impact from the disruption of 2020,” he added.
About $6 billion of the $18 billion it seeks would be invested to improve pandemic preparedness by supporting healthcare workers, strengthening laboratories and funding diagnostic tools, the Global Fund said.
The organization projected that the funding would save 20 million lives between 2024 and 2026, reducing the death rate across the three diseases 64% from 2020 levels by 2026.
The Global Fund, launched in 2002, is an alliance of governments, private sector partners and other groups that invests more than $4 billion per year to fight tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. The United States was the biggest contributor in 2019, accounting for a third of funds raised.
The partnership has saved 44 million lives and cut the death toll from the three diseases by 40% in the 20 years since its creation, the Global Fund said.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot)