The Global Fund’s contribution to combating AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
On March 6, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted Doctor Michel Kazatchine, the executive director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, to discuss the organization's history, work, and vision. Moderated by Senior Transatlantic Fellow Jim Kolbe, the event offered Dr. Kazatchine an opportunity to expound on the Global Fund's founding principles, innovative techniques, and real-world impact. His was a message of progress, using data collected over five years in 136 countries to convey, as he put it, "evidence of hope.
At its core, The Global Fund is a financial instrument, not an implementing entity. Dr. Kazatchine put heavy emphasis on the Fund's ability to leverage additional financial resources into the world's poorest countries through their Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs). CCMs are representative bodies composed of members from government, NGOs, Faith Based Organizations, academia, the private sector, and local communities responsible for constructing the proposal, target goals, and implementation techniques for the Global Fund grants. This approach, Kazatchine says, encourages national ownership and responsibility across sector divides. Independent agents are responsible for reviewing both the proposals and the progress reports, ensuring transparency in the Fund's selection criteria and each programÕs effectiveness on the ground.
Since its inception in 2002, The Global Fund has administered $10 billion, spread over 540 grants. Already, $9.7 billion has been pledged for the next three years, with Japan, Canada, and the U.S. still to commit. Dr. Kazatchine attributes the astonishing growth to a change in ideology. For a long time health was considered a non-profitable source of expenditure, but it is now seen as an integrated and interdependent component of general development. No longer merely a consequence of progress, health is now understood as a prerequisite for sustainable growth. Tertiary benefits of a healthy country, like cleaner water, lower hospital bedding costs, and an improved work force, contribute to higher GDP and an even better government. This new philosophy combined with the early successes of Global Fund projects - 90 percent decline in Malaria deaths in Zanzibar, 91 percent TB success rate in China, 90-96.8 percent increase in survival rate on anti retro-virals in Thailand - have led to high contributions and disbursements.
Kazatchine's vision for the future includes various debt repayment and social protection systems, such as health insurance, to prevent developing countries from relapsing. He believes such systems and infrastructure are essential to sustainability. With 50 million families dropping below the poverty line due to excessive health costs every year, it's clear that simply getting the medicine to affected areas will not be sufficient. Kazatchine made a point to recognize the collaborative efforts between the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and the other major health organizations, dubbing them the "H8." Through these innovative methods and collaboration, it seems the Global Fund is capitalizing on the global health momentum and bringing real positive change to some of the world's most impoverished corners.