In 2002, the year the Global Fund was founded, the world was a different place. Three diseases, HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, were at their peak and causing millions of deaths per year. Seventeen years later, the Global Fund has established itself as the largest funder of health programs to combat the three diseases in the world. The Global Fund reported that the programs supported by the Fund since its inception have saved more than 32 million lives and provided prevention, treatment and care services to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, especially in the most vulnerable and poorest communities. Overall, the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria each year has been reduced by 40% since 2002 in countries where the Global Fund invests.
This month, the Global Fund held its Sixth Replenishment Conference, the start of the next period of funding for the organization’s work across the globe. The unprecedented replenishment campaign, involving the Global Fund’s unique network of donors, implementing government bodies, international development partners, national civil society organizations, the private sector, and communities living with or affected by the target diseases, culminated in a spirited display of global solidarity on 10 October in Lyon when USD 14.02 billion were pledged to the Global Fund by an impressive number of donors to support the Fund for the next three years. This is the largest amount ever raised for a multilateral health organization, and the largest amount raised by the Global Fund. The funds will help save 16 million lives and assist in ending the epidemics of AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030.
Founded as a public-private partnership, engagement with the private sector lies at the core of the work of the Global Fund. More than USD 1 billion of the total pledged amount was made by the private sector and private foundations. To highlight the investment of the private sector to the Global Fund, an event was held in advance of the Replenishment Conference to showcase a range of private sector partnerships and initiatives that will spur innovation to accelerate the end to the world’s three deadliest infectious diseases. Among these initiatives was GBCHealth’s Memorandum of Cooperation with the Global Fund on Supply Chain Management.
“The key objective of the MOC is to Increase the number of lives saved from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria through strengthening the health supply chains with the involvement of the private sector,” said Nancy Wildfeir-Field, President of GBCHealth. “The partnership offers a menu of options for companies to engage, such as providing implementers with access to global in-house supply chain expertise and leveraging existing company tools to enhance supply chain innovations.”
GBCHealth will work with the members of the Private Sector Constituency to the Global Fund, representing a range of industries from pharmaceuticals, health information technology and chemicals to banking, beverages and food chains, to bring their diverse skills and knowledge for finding innovative solutions to the health supply chain challenges in the poorest and most difficult-to-reach communities. New and innovative collaborators will be targeted as well, from the wide range of industries with GBCHealth’s business network.
“The Global Fund needs forward-thinking and innovative approaches if we are to end the epidemics of AIDS, TB and malaria,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “These commitments exemplify the private sector’s expertise to help break down barriers to access health services and accelerate the fight.”
Additional private sector partnerships were announced at the event, including a commitment of USD 100 million from MedAccess to accelerate new products to market, an initiative with Société Générale to strengthen financial and entrepreneurship skills of women in West and Central Africa, a partnership with Orange to provide mobile technology to improve data collection and access to HIV and TB services, and leveraging the expertise of MasterCard in deploying technology to support the digitization of patient records in Africa, among many others.
As part of a high-level event during the Replenishment Conference’s pre-program, GBCHealth President Nancy Wildfeir-Field participated on a panel discussion titled “Going the Last Mile’ – Getting Medicines to People.” Nancy shared insight on GBCHealth’s Memorandum of Cooperation with the Global Fund on Supply Chain Management in collaboration with the Private Sector Constituency to the Global Fund.
Global Fund investments are currently saving 50,000 lives every day, but the fight against the three epidemics is far from over and many key challenges remain, including drug and insecticide resistance, human rights, gender and other barriers to health services and access to care by key and vulnerable populations. The Global Fund is responding to these and other challenges by stepping up the fight – by increasing resource commitments and innovation, by scaling up prevention and treatment, by protecting and building on the gains made to date, and by not allowing the achievements to erode.
Only through innovation in diagnostics, prevention, treatment and delivery models can the threat of resistance be countered, can the poorest and most marginalized be reached, and the root causes of concentrated epidemics be tackled. Strengthening partnerships and engagement with the private sector to bring innovative solutions and unique approaches to issues is the answer to many of the challenges facing the Fund in the next replenishment cycle.
The Private Sector Constituency is a group of companies that are passionate about ending the three diseases, bringing a business voice to the work of the Global Fund. The constituency helps improve the Global Fund’s governance and shape the strategy of the Fund. Member companies contribute in many ways to the success of the Global Fund beyond purely making financial contributions, with pro-bono services, direct and indirect support for strengthening health care systems, and through research and development and direct supply of health products.