Denied funding puts HIV patients in low-income countries at risk of death

Several low-income countries, highly affected by HIV, risk being entirely or partly disqualified from the current funding round by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, warns the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins sans Frontières (MSF).

Unless a new round of funding is urgently introduced to allow rejected applications to be resubmitted, HIV-positive people will suffer severe consequences such as debilitating opportunistic infections and ultimately early death.

The Global Fund Board will convene on December 13 to take their decision on whether or not to fund each proposal, and to decide on the timing of the next funding round. With early signs in the press that some proposals will most likely be rejected, MSF is seriously concerned that several low-income countries with high HIV-prevalence, such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho, risk being denied funding for HIV and TB in this round.

“The Global Fund must ensure at next week’s Board meeting that the next funding round is launched as soon as possible, so that any countries that are rejected can revise and promptly resubmit their proposals,” said Jerome Oberreit, MSF’s Operational Director.   

This news follows the October, 2010, announcement that donor pledges to the Global Fund fall short of putting additional patients on treatment. It also comes at a time when governments and donors such as PEPFAR and UNITAID are requesting the Global Fund to take over the responsibility for ensuring the continuity of HIV/AIDS funding in several countries.

“Today’s funding situation is nothing short of a crisis. If donors rely on the Global Fund to act as the last standing domino piece in the fight against HIV, they need to provide it with the necessary resources to respond according to needs,” said Oberreit. “But in the absence of firm political commitments, the Global Fund will be forced to ration its funding and in turn, AIDS prevention and treatment. The promise by world leaders to put more patients on treatment will then be an empty one.”

Approximately ten million people worldwide in need of ARV treatment are currently unable to access it, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Malawi has a solid track record for AIDS treatment and has developed an ambitious plan based on the latest WHO recommendations to improve the quality of care and provide patients with less toxic drugs at an earlier stage,” said Dr. Ann Åkesson, who works for MSF in Malawi, where nearly 225,000 people receive AIDS medicines countrywide. “Countries like Malawi should be supported in their ambitions to bring their care up to recommended standards.”