From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
The latest Global Fund report released in Montreal, Canada on July 31 has revealed that the organisation has been able to save 44 million lives around HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in over 100 countries between 2002 and mid-2022.
The mid-term report was premised on the significant progress the Global Fund has made in its “Breaking Down Human Rights-Related Barriers” to HIV and TB services launched in 2017 specifically in 20 countries which are Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Nepal, the Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Ukraine.
The intervention was launched to provide intensive financial and technical support to the above-mentioned countries to address stigma and discrimination, criminalization and other
human rights-related obstacles continue to threaten progress against HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria especially as they affect the key population.
Executive Director of the Global Fund, Peter Sands was quoted in the report saying, “one of the most powerful lessons from the history of the fight against HIV is that success in confronting such a formidable disease cannot be achieved through biomedical interventions alone,”
“We must also confront the injustices that make some people especially vulnerable to the disease and unable to access the health services they need. The same is true for TB, malaria, and other diseases, including COVID-19.”
According to the report, in the context of HIV and TB, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, and people in prisons and other closed settings are socially marginalized, often criminalized and face a range of human rights abuses that increase their vulnerability to the diseases and undermine their access to health services.
The key findings of the midterm assessments, which were conducted between 2019 and end of 2021, revealed that all countries involved in the Breaking Down Barriers initiative saw progress in removing human rights-related barriers to HIV services, with a mean increase of 0.9 points from the baseline on the 0-5 scale.
The report further added that the top five scoring countries (Ukraine 3.7, Jamaica 3.5, Botswana 3.3, Senegal 3.1 and Kenya 3.1) are falling short of the scores that would represent a comprehensive response at a national level (above 4.0). Sierra Leone (+1.7), Jamaica (+1.6), Cameroon (+1.3) and Mozambique (+1.3) showed the greatest increase in scores.
All countries surveyed also showed progress on TB programming. The TB scores at midterm ranged from Ghana (2.8) to Sierra Leone (0.2), with an average increase from baseline of 0.6.
For many countries, addressing human rights barriers to TB services entailed the development of new interventions, and the progress reported in the midterm assessment reflects a rapid expansion. The greatest increase was seen in Ukraine (+1.1) and Côte d’Ivoire (+1.5) the report said.
On funding of these human rights funding is unprecedented. In the 20 countries of the Breaking Down Barriers initiative, Global Fund investments in programs to reduce human rights-related barriers have increased more than 10-fold – from slightly over US$10 million to now over US$130 million.
“Never has there been this much funding to support the implementation of comprehensive programs to remove human rights-related barriers to health services.
“The Breaking Down Barriers experience demonstrates that, where there is sufficient funding and technical support, multiple stakeholders can be energized to combine and strengthen their efforts, and as a result, can make real progress in removing long-standing barriers,” concluded Sands.
“This is critical to defeating HIV, TB and malaria, building truly inclusive systems for health that leave no one behind, and enabling everyone, everywhere to realise their right to health and well-being.
The Global Fund provides 30% of all international financing for HIV programs (12% of all available resources) and has invested US$22.7 billion in programs to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV and AIDS and US$3.8 billion in TB/HIV programs as of June 2021. In countries where the Global Fund invests, total AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 65% over the last 20 years” the report read in part.
The Global Fund is a worldwide partnership to defeat HIV, TB and malaria and ensure a healthier, safer, more equitable future for all. Since 2002, the Global Fund partnership has saved 44 million lives.
Senior Coordinator, Human Rights, the Global Fund, Ralf Jurgens during a question and answer session exclusively for journalists alumni from the Thomson Reuters Foundation-Global Fund partnership held via Zoom platform yesterday, hinted that his organisation would reach out to the Nigerian government by December this year ahead of making additional funding available to the country to address human rights issues on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria by January.
He said, “we leant lessons from the initiative when we started it. It is already clear that in our next funding cycle which starts on January 1 2023, Nigeria will be able to access additional funding to reduce human rights issues around HIV, TB and Malaria.
“It will become a part of breaking down barrier initiatives. What we’ve already started doing is saucing the barriers you already talked about – poor Malaria services like, why is it that some people are finding it difficult to access malaria services. Why are we having some key population and what do we need to do so we can reach internally displaced persons?
“That work has already started and will be scaled up with the new funding cycle that starts in January next year. By December, Nigeria will be notified about how much money it will receive from the Global Fund to help us resolve some of the issues that you are revering to,” Ralf hinted.