Winning the Fight Against Killer Diseases
MAPUTO – One of the greatest successes in development aid in the past decade has been the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Global Fund has saved millions of lives and helped countries around the world beat back three epidemic diseases. Now it is appealing to the world’s governments and the private sector for another three years of funding, with governments set to decide on further financing in early December in Washington, DC.
Back in 2000, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was devastating the world’s poorest countries, especially in Africa. New antiretroviral medicines had been developed and were being used in rich countries, but were too expensive for the poorest. Millions of poor people were dying of AIDS, even though the new medicines could have kept them alive.
Two other major killer diseases, malaria and TB, were also resurgent. Deaths from malaria were soaring, partly because poor countries’ health systems were dramatically underfunded, and partly because the malaria parasite had developed resistance to the usual medicines. Yet the potential to control malaria was actually improving, thanks to several newly emerging technologies: long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent the mosquitos from biting, better diagnostics to identify infections, and a new generation of highly effective medicines.