World leaders pledge billions to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria on UN sidelines

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UNITED NATIONS/NEW YORK, Sept 21 (Reuters) – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday hit $14.25 billion in pledges as world leaders seek to end the deadly Fight disease after progress was thrown off course by the COVID-19 pandemic.

US President Joe Biden, who hosted the conference in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, said funding is critical to fighting the diseases.

“This is an investment that will save an additional 20 million lives and reduce mortality from these diseases by an additional 64% over the next four years,” Biden said.

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The United States previously announced that it would commit $6 billion for the next funding cycle.

The fund, a Geneva-based public-private alliance, is seeking $18 billion for its next three-year funding cycle from governments, civil society and the private sector. Before the conference on Wednesday, she had already raised more than a third of the total.

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The Global Fund said the $14.25 billion figure is likely to rise as more donations are expected.

“For the government and people of Malawi, this is not a conference but a lifesaver,” Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said earlier in the day, pledging $1 million.

According to UNAIDS, 990,000 adults and children were living with HIV in Malawi in 2021, and USAID says tuberculosis is a “major public health problem in Malawi.”

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen pledged 715 million euros ($703.63 million) to the fund, which she says is a 30% increase on the previous pledge.

“We can cure tuberculosis. We can prevent malaria. We can fight these terrible diseases. We will end AIDS, we will end tuberculosis, we will end malaria once and for all,” she said.

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French President Emmanuel Macron pledged a further 300 million euros, bringing France’s total contribution to the funding period to 1.6 billion euros.

Nigeria pledged US$13.2 million, the Netherlands €180 million and Indonesia US$15.5 million, as well as pledges from the private sector.

In its 2022 report, the fund said the outreach of its treatment and prevention efforts has rebounded over the past year after declining in 2020 for the first time in nearly 20 years, but the world is still not on track to address it to defeat these diseases. Continue reading

The fund estimates that its work has saved around 50 million lives since its inception in 2002.

But in 2020, the number of patients treated for tuberculosis fell by 19% to 4.5 million. In 2021, that rose again by 12% to 5.3 million – still just below the 5.5 million figure before the pandemic.

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While malaria and AIDS programs have exceeded 2019 levels, the impact of the pandemic means they are still not on track to end the diseases by 2030.

The fund has also warned about the war in Ukraine and the global food crisis could exacerbate the situation. Infectious diseases tend to be much more deadly for people whose bodies are weakened by malnutrition, and they also don’t respond as well to treatment or prevention efforts.

($1 = 1.0162 euros)

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Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and John Irish at the United Nations and Steve Holland in New York; Additional reporting by Jennifer Rigby in London and Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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