Increase funding or abandon hope of ending malaria, TB and Aids, UK warned

Britain is being urged to pledge billions of dollars to get the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and Aids “back on track” after efforts were ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK has historically been one of the main donors to the Global Fund, an international financing organisation aimed at ending the three deadly epidemics by 2030. Now it is warning that, unless donors make an unprecedented total funding pledge of $18bn (£13.25bn) this year, that goal will be missed.

“In the face of the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria, the choice is stark: we either increase funding, or we abandon hope of finally defeating these epidemics by 2030,” said Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund.

In a statement seen by the Guardian, a group of African politicians echoed that warning, stressing that the world faces “a critical moment”.

“Covid-19 devastated health systems and crippled the global response to health challenges … What follows now will be decisive in getting progress back on track,” write the seven parliamentarians from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal.

“Key donor countries who have played an important role in this historic partnership, such as the US, UK and others, once again have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership with strong funding pledges, which will be met by implementing countries upholding commitments to mobilise their own resources.”

Campaigners said the UK government’s decision to cut the aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income has already had an impact on global efforts against HIV, Aids, TB and malaria, contributing to a wider stalling of progress during the pandemic.

Doubt was cast on Britain’s likely commitment to the Global Fund on Tuesday when the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said, in a written statement, she was “rebalancing the aid budget towards bilateral programmes” and, implicitly, away from multilateral…

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