The Global Fund Turns Ten: A Year to Reflect, Restructure, and Reenergize

| June 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talks to Bill Gates at a dinner to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Global Fund. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

This past winter marked the ten-year anniversary of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, prompting reflection on the organization’s achievements since its inception in 2002. The Global Fund works to invest and allocate the world’s money to improve health outcomes. It was conceived as an emergency response to combat three of the major diseases that were in the process of devastating the developing world [1].

The Global Fund takes a different approach to financing disease prevention and treatment. It not only gives substantial funds to poor countries, but also restructures the ways in which these funds are delivered. Through its grants, the Global Fund allows develop countries to create their own strategies to address health problems and to build up local capacity for healthcare. More importantly, funded interventions must be cost-effective and focus on performance-based results [2].  The Global Fund only sustains health programs and interventions that meet indicators for success whereas those that cannot perform are discontinued.

Through its funding system, the Global Fund has made a real impact in the realm of global health.  8.6 million people in 116 countries have been provided critical care for tuberculosis; 230 million insecticide-treated nets have been distributed to people in 84 countries to protect against malaria; 3.3 million people have been given antiretroviral drugs [3].

To commemorate the anniversary and these results, the Global Fund created a short film by award-winning photographer and filmmaker Adrian Stern. The film illustrates many prominent figures who have contributed to the Global Fund’s success story -  Tony Blair, Bono, President Clinton, and Bill Gates to name a few [4].  In reflecting on the Global Fund’s work, Blair spoke highly of the organization, “The Global Fund is about the only time I can remember as a political leader when you set up something up that was supposed to have a dramatic impact – and it did actually have a dramatic impact.” [3]

The film, however, masks much of the disappointment and disaster that has plagued the Global Fund of late.  Over the past few years, the organization has dealt with accusations of corruption, management breakdowns, and a $2 billion gap in fundraising [5]. The economic recession has taken a severe toll on the finance end, coupled with a decline in overall donor support, as many people do not perceive AIDS, TB, and malaria to be as catastrophic as they were in 2002 [6].

Furthermore, as a result of its financial situation, the Global Fund has put a freeze on the next round of grants. Just days before the anniversary, Michel Kazatchkine, upset with the board for reducing his responsibilities in the organization, stepped down from his position as Director [7].  Unfortunately these political battles and gridlock come at the expense of innocent individuals who need aid for disease prevention and treatment.

Yet, in spite of these troubles, the 10-year mark also offers a turning point toward a new decade of success. Last November, the Board of Directors issued a new strategy for 2012-2016 to streamline efforts to best “invest for impact”. In late January, Gabriel Jaramillio, a veteran executive in the financial sector, was appointed as general manager of the Global Fund [8].  Just a few dates later, Bill Gates announced a $750 million donation to bridge the funding gap, demonstrating his faith and confidence in the Global Fund’s future endeavors.

The Global Fund’s ten-year anniversary could not have come at a better time, simultaneously reminding the world of its impressive achievements and prompting the organization to recommit to targeting the world’s greatest pandemics amidst its recent slump. After celebrating its anniversary in January, the Global Fund pledged to save 10 million lives and prevent 140-180 million new infections over the next five years [2]. Thanks to the work of the Global Fund, there has been such progress in combating AIDS, TB, and malaria that the fear of an impending health crisis from these diseases has subsided. Just in time, this anniversary seems to have reenergized the Global Fund’s efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality from the top three killer infectious diseases.

 

Works Cited:

[1] “Mission.” The Global Fund. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://onemillion.theglobalfund.org/pages/mission>.

[2] “Home – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.” The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/>.

[3] “The Global Fund Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary With Star-Studded Short Film (Video) (Slideshow).” The Huffington Post. 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/26/the-global-fund-celebrate_n_1233040.html>.

[4] “Global Fund Supporters Call for Continuing Action at Tenth Birthday.” The Global Fund. 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/mediacenter/announcements/2012-01-26_Global_Fund_supporters_call_for_Continuing_action_at_tenth_birthday/>.

[5] Treanor, Jill. “Bill Gates Tells Davos ‘Economic Crisis Is Not an Excuse for Cutting Aid’”. The Guardian. 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/26/bill-gates-davos-aid>.

[6] Kelly, Annie. “What does the second decade hold for the Global Fund?”. The Guardian. 2 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/feb/02/future-global-fund-aids-tb-malaria.

[7] McNeil, Donald. “Bill Gates Donates $750 Million to Shore Up Disease-Fighting Fund.” Health. New York Times, 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/health/gates-donates-750-million-to-global-fund.html?_r=1>.

[8] “Oxfam Statement on the Global Fund 10 Year Anniversary.” Oxfam International. 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfam-statement-global-fund-10-year-anniversary>.

 

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