Key Takeaways from the Global Fund’s 44th Board Meeting

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) held its virtual biannual meeting of its donor, civil society, private sector and other board members on November 11-12, 2020. Below are highlights from that meeting.

Global Fund’s efforts to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on AIDS, TB and malaria

The Global Fund began the year determined to step up the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria with a particular focus on HIV prevention, finding the missing cases for TB and vector control for malaria. However, COVID-19 has disrupted roughly 70 percent of the Global Fund’s service delivery programs. Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, emphasized the need to increase funding and expand the global response to fight COVID-19 and reinforce systems for health needed to get back on track to end the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics by 2030.

In his opening remarks to the board, Sands also stated that “COVID-19 is killing roughly the same number of people every week as HIV, TB and malaria combined.” He later went on to say that “We did, I think, avert the immediate worst-case scenario of impact on HIV, TB and malaria. But we should have no illusions: There has been a significant impact, and over time the failure to contain COVID-19, and its financial and economic consequences, will further erode our ability to fight the three diseases.”

Global Fund multi-year strategy development

During the board meeting, a significant part of the discussion focused on the development of the Global Fund’s next strategy. The strategy is a multi-year roadmap that will direct the Global Fund’s actions, set out priorities for how the partnership can accelerate progress against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and improve global health.

Throughout various segments of the board’s deliberation, members highlighted the importance of innovation and flexibility in implementation in the aftermath of COVID-19. Additionally, other members also proposed reinforcing global health security to fight current and future pandemics that could derail the fight against HIV, TB, and malaria. Further, some board constituencies stated that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical role of both health and community systems. Strengthening health systems will help fight HIV, TB and malaria and sustain gains obtained in the last two decades of fighting against those diseases. 

Office of the Inspector General progress report

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) plans to conduct several audits and investigations in 2021.  The audits will seek to ensure that grants achieve impact and that COVID-19 funds are being effectively utilized.

Preparing for the seventh Replenishment

In 2021, the Global Fund will begin preparing for the seventh Replenishment, which will occur in late 2022. COVID-19 presents many challenges for the Global Fund and its work, and the next Replenishment will take into account the changing global health landscape. Ambassador Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Coordinator and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, emphasized that the impact of COVID-19 on the donor community will be long-lasting. When seeking global donor support, the Global Fund will need to emphasize its unique role in the fight to end AIDS, TB and malaria.

2022 will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Fund. The Global Fund plans to continue with its bold vision and spirit of solidarity to win the fight against COVID-19 and protect people against future infectious disease threats.