The number of deaths from HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria could double globally if health systems are overwhelmed, treatment and prevention programs are disrupted, and resources are diverted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a report from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria warns.
To prevent such an outcome, the report, Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on countries affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (20 pages, PDF), estimates that $28.5 billion in funding will be needed over the next twelve months in four key areas: adapting HIV, TB, and malaria programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19; training and protecting health workers; strengthening public health systems to prevent their collapse; and responding swiftly to COVID-19 outbreaks through testing, tracing, isolation, and treatments (as they become available). The estimate does not include the cost of vaccines. Without additional funding, the progress achieved in fighting HIV, TB, and malaria over the past two decades could be wiped out, the report argues. Since 2002, the Global Fund has helped save more than thirty-two million lives and reduced annual HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria deaths by nearly half.
Taking into account the contributions of partners and the $1 billion it has already committed, the fund estimates it will need to raise an additional $5 billion over the next twelve months to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in countries most affected by HIV, TB, and malaria.
"The stakes are extraordinarily high," said Global Fund executive director Peter Sands. "The knock-on effects of COVID-19 on the fight against HIV, TB, and malaria and other infectious diseases could be catastrophic. Mitigating that impact will require swift action, extraordinary levels of leadership and collaboration, and significant extra resources. Above all, we must leave no one behind."
(Photo credit: Amref Health Africa/Kennedy Musyoka)