The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria in 2020, according to a recent report released by the Global Fund. The Fund’s 2021 Results Report shows that while some progress was made, key programmatic results have declined for the first time in the history of the Global Fund.
Tuberculosis: The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on the fight against TB worldwide. In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests dropped by a staggering 19%, and the number of HIV-positive TB patients on antiretroviral treatment as well as TB treatment dropped by 16%.
HIV: The report also highlights significant declines in HIV testing and prevention services for key and vulnerable populations. Compared with 2019, the number of people reached with HIV prevention programs and services declined by 11%, and HIV testing dropped by 22%, holding back HIV treatment initiation in most countries.
Malaria: Thanks to adaptation measures and the diligence and innovation of community health workers, malaria interventions appear to have been less badly affected by COVID-19, with prevention activities remaining stable or increasing compared to 2019. The number of mosquito nets distributed increased by 17%, and structures covered by indoor residual spraying increased by 3%. In 2020, 11.5 million pregnant women received preventive therapy. However, the rate of testing for suspected cases of malaria fell by 4.3% and progress against the disease stalled.
The Global Fund’s rapid response to COVID-19 prevented these numbers from being even worse. In 2020, the Global Fund disbursed US$4.2 billion to continue the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and strengthen systems for health and an additional US$980 million in funding to respond to COVID-19. These investments, along with fast action and funding from donors, governments, communities and health partners helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria and achieve the progress made in the fight against the three diseases.
“Despite the horrible toll COVID-19 has taken, the pandemic presents us with a chance to build a better, more equitable and healthier world,” commented Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “Together, we have changed the trajectory of HIV, TB and malaria and we are determined to continue to do so. If we continue to innovate and collaborate — at global, national and local levels– we can end HIV, TB and malaria, beat COVID-19 and build a much stronger foundation for pandemic preparedness and response.”