Global Fund’s $5B ask for COVID-19 response still lacking funds

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria made an appeal in August for an additional $5 billion to continue supporting countries in its response to the coronavirus. But after more than five months, only $259 million — or about 5% of that ask — has been filled to date.

Part of the challenge is that the global health financing framework is not built to address a crisis with the magnitude of COVID-19, according to Francoise Vanni, director of external relations and communications at the Global Fund. The $5 billion ask is on top of usual commitments or investment plans made by countries for global health, including for the Global Fund, which also needs to make sure that donors honor their commitments to the fund’s core programs from its sixth replenishment in 2019.

“It’s like if we were after the Second World War, wondering whether the budgets made before the war would be sufficient to rebuild Europe — of course not. So there’s something of that nature that we need to push the boundaries. And it’s always difficult to challenge and to push the boundaries,” Vanni told Devex.

The current global focus on COVID-19 vaccines adds to the challenge. The Global Fund is not involved in vaccine procurement. Vanni said it’s been challenging for the Global Fund and partners to stress the continued importance of other COVID-19 tools such as diagnostics, personal protective equipment, and therapeutics.