For the first time in ten years, international and national funds to fight HIV and tuberculosis decreased in 2018, putting countries affected by these epidemics under pressure. Global Fund donors meet this week in Lyon, France, to fill an envelope for the next three years. The nonprofit organization Médecins Sans Frontières AKA Doctors Without Borders war that these cuts in funding will have a detrimental impact on the fight against these two deadly diseases.
The recent general downward trend in funding the fight against HIV and tuberculosis is in a critical position according to Dr. Mit Philips a health policy analyst at Médecins Sans Frontières. If funding for countries like Mozambique declines then countries in West and Central Africa that are already lagging behind in terms of HIV and tuberculosis prevention will most likely see their situation worsen.
The cuts in funding will hurt a lot of people
According to UN data, international and national HIV funds have fallen by $1 billion in 2018. And the shortage in tuberculosis funding has increased to $3.5 billion a year.
In Guinea, the number of deaths from HIV and tuberculosis has increased in recent years. In a difficult context where efforts need to be stepped up, Global Fund grants have declined between 2015-2017 and 2017-2019.
In Myanmar, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the Asia-Pacific region, the estimated gap in HIV/AIDS funding is estimated at $150 million.
The lack of available resources has a direct impact on patients, as it can lead to drug depletion, inadequate screening, prevention, and care.
Every day, teams from Doctors Without Borders found that many patients do not start or have to stop treatment, sometimes due to a lack of available drugs. This contributes to more transmission, more mortality, more unsuccessful treatments and more resistance to treatment. This means higher costs for the treatment of HIV and tuberculosis.
Based on studies in nine countries with HIV and tuberculosis programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Burma, Central African Republic, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe – the report shows that many countries with a lack of external aid are unable to compensate for this decline and to take financial responsibility in the short term. This is particularly true for countries affected by conflicts or socio-economic crises.
According to Dr. Philips sharing the financial burden with countries affected by HIV and tuberculosis can be positive because it increases their independence from donor volatility. But this approach has to be adapted to the realities of each country. Overestimating a country’s capacity to fund actions against HIV and tuberculosis can endanger people’s lives and local health programs.
In view of the Global Fund Conference, the Médecins Sans Frontières report calls on donor countries to rapidly reverse the decline in funding for HIV and tuberculosis and adapt their approaches to the challenges faced by partner countries.