Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Global Fund has expressed concern that the effect of coronavirus pandemic could greatly threaten the successes made over the past years in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis (TB), especially in Africa and other developing countries of the world.
A statement from the Fund indicated the its Executive Director, Peter Sand, raised the concerns in his remarks at the first board meeting of the Fund held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that, if the global health systems collapse, or treatment and prevention services are interrupted, the death toll from the three diseases and others would massively outweigh deaths from COVID-19 itself, indicating that millions more lives would be lost.
He said: “This is what keeps me awake at night. It’s the real test for all of us and it’s also why we must unite to win the fight. Our role as partner in the global COVID-19 response is to help where we can, because, firstly, it is the right thing to do, and secondly, because doing so is necessary to protect the gains made against HIV, TB and malaria and sustain the fight against these diseases.
“We also bring a different perspective and approach that otherwise risks getting lost in the COVID-19 response, the involvement of civil society, the need for community leadership and the imperative to protect human rights.
“We must finish the fights we haven’t yet won, such as the ones against HIV, TB and malaria as well as win the new fight against COVID-19. That also means we must prepare ourselves for fights against pathogens yet unseen. And above all, we must leave no one behind.”
He, thus, encouraged the world to demonstrate and bear in mind that the battle against infectious disease is not a singular battle against one particular virus, but a commitment to make the world safer for everyone.
“COVID-19 will irrevocably rewrite the way the world thinks about global health. It will reshape the relationship between health, finance and economics. In addition to that, it will have profound political effects, both within the countries and for geo-politics. Whether we like it or not, everything we do will now be framed in the context of a world reeling from the shock of COVID-19.
“Much of the international COVID-19 response so far has, understandably, been technology-driven and top-down. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the fight against AIDS, that is not enough, we must recognize that our world has changed, dramatically and irreversibly,” he said.