Global Health Funding Flows As WHO, Gavi, Global Fund Benefit

Actions by governments in recent days show funding for global health continues to be a priority for some countries. Geneva-based institutions and their programs around the world are among the beneficiaries.

World Health Organization Emergency Fund

A number of member states of the World Health Organization yesterday committed millions of dollars toward WHO’s ability to react quickly to disease outbreaks and emergencies. The argument is that a modest investment upfront could save massive costs and lives later.

According to a WHO spokesperson in a briefing, donors pledged an additional US$ 15.3 million “to support quick action by the World Health Organization to tackle disease outbreaks and humanitarian health crises” through its emergency response fund in 2018, the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE).

Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom announced contributions ranging from US$20,000 to US$5.6 million at a conference hosted at WHO headquarters in Geneva yesterday. This increased the CFE funding levels to $23 million, he said.

WHO noted that the CFE’s ability to release up to $500,000 within 24 hours “sets it apart from other complementary financing mechanisms that have different funding criteria and slower disbursement cycles.” It said that without the CFE, “recent outbreaks of Ebola in DRC, Marburg virus Disease in Uganda and pneumonic plague in Madagascar could have gotten out of control.” The emergency fund “has proven its value as a global public good that should be underwritten by long term investment,” WHO said.

As an example, WHO told the story that: “In May 2017, the Democratic Republic of the Congo experienced a cluster of unexplained deaths in a remote part of the country. WHO deployed a team within 24 hours thanks to CFE funding. By July, the Ebola outbreak was over, resulting in four deaths. This rapid release of US$2 million quite possibly saved thousands of lives and billions of dollars. In contrast, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 resulted in more than 11,000 deaths and cost more than US$3.6 billion to contain.”

WHO said that in 2017, the CFE provided nearly $21 million for operations in 23 countries, with most allocations released in 24 hours. Now, WHO will try to bring in donor commitments to reach its $50 million funding target for 2018, and $100 million for the 2018/2019 biennium.

Separately, WHO’s new neighbours in Geneva (both in the process of moving into the new Campus Santé adjacent to WHO headquarters – see IPW, Public Health, 14 February 2017), the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, both were restored to full funding levels for last year after the Trump administration proposed substantive cuts to each.

[Clarification: the funding approved by the US Congress was for 2018. The funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration for 2019 are still pending.]

Gavi: $290 Million from US

The US Congress in its omnibus appropriations bill for 2018 agreed to restore Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to the level of funding from last year, $290 million, following a proposal by the Trump administration to cut it to $250 million.

Gavi said in a statement that the funds “will go towards increasing the organization’s capacity to purchase and deliver life-saving vaccines for poor and vulnerable children around the world.”

The contribution to Gavi is part of the US$ 829.5 million approved for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Maternal and Child Health programs for 2018, it said. “This funding not only supports the introduction of new vaccines and innovative approaches and tools to expand equitable access to vaccines, but a range of other life-saving interventions,” it said.

“Gavi is grateful to the United States for continuing to invest in vaccines, one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives, improve health and ensure long-term prosperity,” Gavi CEO Dr. Seth Berkley said in the statement.

Berkley singled out for thanks the Senate State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham and the committee’s Ranking Member Senator Patrick Leahy as well as the House State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee leaders, Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey.

Gavi said passage of the bill shows continued US leadership on global health. “By passing this bill, the U.S. is demonstrating its continued and essential leadership in global health, supporting organizations that use innovative solutions to solve some of the world’s greatest development challenges,” it said.

The US$ 290 million contribution from the United States will help Gavi “achieve its goal of immunising 300 million additional children between 2016 and 2020, preventing five million to six million additional deaths,” it said. The US was one of the original six donors that supported Gavi’s establishment in 2000, it noted.

Global Fund: $1.35 Billion from US

The Global Fund issued a statement applauding the United States Congress for last week approving $1.35 billion for the 2018 US fiscal year (which ends on 30 September).

The Fund also noted the congressional appropriation of $4.65 billion for the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), $755 million for the US President’s Malaria Initiative, and $261 million for USAID’s tuberculosis program. “The Global Fund is a critical partner to all three of these US bilateral efforts,” it said.

“The sustained US support for the Global Fund will strengthen economic growth and help reduce poverty in Global Fund implementing countries,” it said in a statement. “It will also save lives, reduce suffering, and bolster health security across the globe. The Global Fund matches every dollar from the US with two dollars from other donors to drive global progress.” The reason for this arrangement was not explained.

The funding renewal is the first from the US since Peter Sands took over the helm of the Global Fund in recent months. The figure of $1.35 billion matches last year’s final appropriation, in which Congress increased the lower amount sought by the Trump administration.

For 2019, as reported by Intellectual Property Watch in February (IPW, North America, 13 February 2018): “Under the State Department and international programs budget, the Geneva-based Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would receive $925 million to complete the 3-year commitment made at the last replenishing conference of the Global Fund. But this is significantly lower than the $1.125 billion request made last year that ended up at $1.35 billion.”

Lobbyists for the Global Fund were on the ground in Washington to help ensure funding was restored for 2018, and the Fund mentioned several congressional members for their supportive roles.

“Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria and other advocates in the United States sought strong U.S. support for the Global Fund and U.S. bilateral global health programs for 2018,” it said in the release. “Chris Collins, President of Friends of the Global Fight, announced, ‘Friends is grateful to global health champions on Capitol Hill for sustaining funding for the Global Fund and other global health accounts in the FY 18 appropriations bill.” Collins also thanks Sens. Graham and Leahy, as well as Reps. Rogers and Lowey.

Global Fund grants represent approximately 65 percent of international funding to fight TB, it said: “The Global Fund is urgently working with the Stop TB Partnership and implementing countries to find and treat the ‘missing’ TB cases – people infected with TB, but undiagnosed and untreated, and thus suffering and able to infect others. Stop TB and the Global Fund partnership are investing additional funds to find and treat 1.5 million of the missing cases by 2020.”


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