Global Fund says no new grants until 2014

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The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis will not be issuing any new grants until 2014, according to an article by the Associated Press.

The multilateral organization issued a press release Wednesday to announce a new strategy “to contribute substantially to international goals by saving 10 million lives and preventing 140-180 million new infections from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria from 2012 to 2016.” Buried a few paragraphs into the release was mention of a revised resource forecast presented to the Board of the Global Fund during its trustee meeting last week in Accra, Ghana, that painted a grim picture.

Based on the $4 billion the Fund holds in its trustee account and pledges from donors, the organization should be able to sign grants for existing approved programs worth more than $10 billion for the 2011-2013 period, according to the release. Beyond that, given low interest rates and budget constraints in some donor countries, new grant funding has been severely impacted, and the Fund “will only be able to finance essential services for on-going programs that come to their conclusion before 2014 by making savings in the existing grant portfolio,” the organization release states.

While the Fund’s External Relations Manager Dr. Christoph Benn anticipated that China, Brazil, Mexico and Russia will step up their resource commitments to “take over the next phase of the Fund’s programs,” according to the AP article, he also said that about 9 to 10 million patients in need of HIV treatment in developing nations could be affected by the funding slump over the next two years.

Board members encouraged donor countries to consider increasing and accelerating their financial commitments. Advocacy organizations fell in line, urging nations not to use the financial crisis as an excuse to pull back on commitments to the Fund.

The Global Fund is the largest funder of AIDS, malaria and TB programs in the world and has saved the lives of 7.7 million people – funding 600 programs in 150 countries, and providing 70 percent of antiretroviral medicines to low- and middle-income countries.

In efforts to create more savings, the Board agreed to adopt measures to limit funding to middle-income countries, and encourage those same countries to step up their contributions. According to the AP article, “$800 million to $900 million in grants planned for China, Brazil, Mexico and Russia will now be used for other purposes.” The board also plans to implement a new application process, which should reduce the proposal development costs the applicants incur. The Fund plans to hire a general manager and a potential support team to in the transition period.

“It is deeply worrisome that inadvertently, the millions of people fighting with deadly diseases are in danger of paying the price for the global financial crisis,” said the Global Fund’s Executive Director, Michel Kazatchkine, in the organization’s release. “There are millions of people dependent on Global Fund resources to stay alive and healthy, and the Global Fund will redouble its efforts to increase the available funding to continue to scale up HIV, TB and malaria interventions.”