The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has announced a pledge of $760 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Announced at the Global Fund's Sixth Replenishment conference in Lyon, France — which raised a total of more than $1 billion from the private sector to fund the Global Fund's operations over the next three years — the commitment will support a variety of solutions, including the development of a tuberculosis vaccine and a matchstick-sized implant that can be inserted under a patient's skin to provide a year's protection against the HIV virus. With its latest pledge, the foundation has committed a total of nearly $3 billion to the Global Fund since 2002.
In a speech announcing the commitment, Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates pointed to significant strides the Global Fund has made in fighting the three diseases but also urged wealthier nations not to lose sight of the need to keep funding those efforts. "More and more, countries seem to be stepping back from the world and saying they'll cut things like foreign aid," said Gates. "If there's a narrative about how the globe is turning, it is that it's turning inward."
Also announced at the conference were commitments from other private-sector partners in support of solutions designed to improve access to medicines, products, and health services, with a focus on populations in hard-to-reach areas. The partners include MedAccess, a UK-based social finance company, which hopes to raise $100 million to accelerate its efforts to bring new products to market; the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which will support the Global Fund's Breaking Down Barriers initiative by facilitating pro-bono legal research, support, and capacity-building initiatives and training; Société Générale, which has committed to support efforts aimed at strengthening the financial and entrepreneurship skills of women in West and Central Africa; and the French Business Council for Africa, which will launch an initiative to expand access to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria prevention services in the workplace and local communities.
To help the Global Fund better leverage mobile and digital technology, the Rockefeller Foundation will invest up to $15 million in a new Data Science Catalytic Fund; Mastercard will support the digitization of patient records in Africa; and Orange, in partnership with others, will invest $5 million in efforts to provide mobile technology in Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Global Fund also will work with Google Cloud and Microsoft to better identify people with tuberculosis in India and improve diagnosis and treatment protocol adherence. In addition, (RED) partners including Bank of America and Salesforce pledged a total of $150 million through 2022 in support of the Global Fund's efforts to address HIV/AIDS, a 50 percent increase over the amount pledged in its Fifth Replenishment campaign in 2016.
"The Global Fund needs forward-thinking and innovative approaches if we are to end the epidemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria," said Global Fund executive director Peter Sands. "These commitments exemplify the private sector's expertise to help break down barriers to access health services and accelerate the fight."
(Photo credit: Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria)