Japan is known for a number of national treasures: sushi, verdant gardens, karate, and (of course) Nintendo. But today, the country is garnering attention from world leaders for a very different reason, as it hosts the Fifth Pre-Replenishment Meeting for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and kicks off a global effort to raise $13 billion and save 8 million lives over the next three years.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a pre-replenishment meeting and why is it so important? In 2002, leaders from around the world joined forces to create the Global Fund, described as a “war chest” to fight the devastation caused by the three diseases.
For the Global Fund’s war chest to remain full and effective, it holds a replenishment fundraising meeting every three years. During these replenishments, the Global Fund raises funds not only from traditional government donors, but also from foundations, high-net-worth individuals, private sector companies, and emerging donor governments.
Leaders have gathered in Tokyo to start to prepare for this next replenishment period in 2016, which will fundraise for 2017-19. The meeting serves as not only a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also as a critical platform for leaders to discuss how to continue the Fund’s legacy as the world’s largest financier of AIDS, TB and malaria programs.
The global status of AIDS, TB, and malaria would be in a much different place if it were not for the Global Fund. Credited with investments which have saved 17 million lives since 2002 and are on track to save 22 million lives by the end of 2016, the Global Fund’s grants have provided AIDS treatment for 8.1 million people; testing and treatment for TB for 13.2 million people; and distributed 548 million mosquito nets!
Thanks in large part to the Global Fund’s efforts in partnership with other countries and development partners, we can see a road to not just containing but also defeating AIDS, TB, and malaria within our lifetimes. This road, however, will not be built on its own; without renewed and “fast-tracked” investments, it could crumble under wear and tear, leading to an alarming resurgence of the diseases and colossal economic and social costs. Indeed, if coverage remains at current levels, new infections and deaths could skyrocket, undoing the progress we’ve achieved.
However, massive progress is possible if we invest in building a sturdy path forward. If world leaders succeed in helping the Fund mobilize $13 billion at the Fund’s Fifth Replenishment, it is estimated that an additional 300 million new infections will be averted and 8 million lives will be saved over the next three years, leading to broad economic gains of up to $290 billion over the coming years and decades. Put on a smaller scale, every $100 million raised by donors will save 60,000 lives, avert 2.3 million new infections, and generate $300 million and $2.2 billion in domestic resources and long-term economic gains, respectively.
In the words of Bill Gates, “the Global Fund is one of the kindest things people have ever done for each other. It’s also one of the most valuable investments a donor can make.”
No one donor will be able to make the Global Fund successful on its own—it will take the leadership, increases from the Fund’s traditional donors, and new contributions from new partners in the public and private sectors. This 2016, donors can either build the road leading us towards the end of AIDS, TB, and malaria, or allow their precious window of opportunity to fade and these diseases to continue spreading for decades more.