By Daphne Psaledakis and Steve Holland
UNITED NATIONS/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria reached a pledged $14.25 billion on Wednesday as world leaders seek to tackle killer diseases after progress has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
US President Joe Biden, who hosted the conference in New York on the sidelines of the annual high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly, said funding was crucial to fighting disease.
“This is an investment that will save 20 million more lives, reduce mortality from these diseases by an additional 64% over the next four years,” Biden said.
The United States had previously announced that it would pledge $6 billion for the next round of funding.
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The fund, a Geneva-based public/private alliance, is seeking $18 billion for its next three-year funding round from governments, civil society and the private sector. Before Wednesday’s conference, he had already collected more than a third of the total.
The Global Fund said the figure of $14.25 billion is expected to rise as more donations are expected.
“For the government and people of Malawi, this is not a conference but a lifeline,” Lazarus Chakwera, Malawi’s president, said earlier in the day, pledging $1 million.
According to UNAIDS, there were 990,000 adults and children in Malawi living with HIV in 2021, and USAID says tuberculosis is a “major public health problem in Malawi”.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has pledged 715 million euros ($703.63 million) to the fund, which she says is a 30% increase on her previous pledge.
“We can cure tuberculosis. We can prevent malaria. We can fight these terrible diseases. We will end AIDS, we will end TB, we will end malaria – once and for all,” she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron pledged an additional €300 million, bringing France’s total contribution for the funding period to €1.6 billion.
Nigeria pledged $13.2 million, the Netherlands pledged €180 million and Indonesia pledged $15.5 million, alongside pledges from the private sector.
In its 2022 report, the fund said the reach of its treatment and prevention efforts rebounded last year after shrinking for the first time in nearly 20 years in 2020, but the world is still not sure. the right way to overcome these diseases.
The fund estimates that its work has saved around 50 million lives since its inception in 2002.
But in 2020, the number of people treated for TB fell by 19%, to 4.5 million. In 2021, that figure rose 12%, to 5.3 million – still just below the 5.5 million before the pandemic.
Although malaria and AIDS programs have surpassed 2019 levels, the impact of the pandemic means they are still far from ending the diseases by 2030.
The Fund also warned that the war in Ukraine and the global food crisis could worsen the situation. Infectious diseases are generally much more deadly for people whose bodies are weakened by malnutrition, and they don’t respond as well to treatment or prevention efforts.
(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)
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