How much will the global financial crisis impact funding for the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria? By the end of next week, we may have a fairly precise answer to that question when donors meet for a replenishment conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Back in 2002, donor countries combined their resources into a single pool to pay for treatments for these diseases and to strengthen the health care systems of recipient countries. The outcome was the advent of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. So far, the Global Fund has raised about $19 billion and paid for approximately one quarter of all AIDS treatments in the developing world and two thirds of treatment for Malaria and TB. In all, 2.5 million people are on ARV treatments because of the Global Fund. Also, about 35% of the Global Fund’s funds are directed toward strengthening health delivery systems in recipient countries (i.e. training doctors and nurses and strengthening drug supply chains.)

The Global Fund requires new funding every three years and at the UN next week donors are meeting for a replenishment conference for 2011 to 2013.  Already, there are concerns that the financial crisis will give traditional donors pause.  Doctors Without Borders warns that  the will “fall far short” of the $20 billion over the next three years to do its job.

“If the current funding situation continues, patients will be left with fewer options as the global response to HIV will increasingly fall on smaller private programs, such as those run by MSF.

Germany, the third largest donor after the United States and France, poses the greatest threat to the Fund’s replenishment. There are plans within the German government to cut its contribution by two-thirds, possibly even ending its contributions to the Fund by the end of 2011.  Italy is likely to not pledge any funds at all.”

The United States is by far the largest contributor to the fund. (Last year, it contributed $1.05 billion. This year, it has pledged $1 billion). The relevant budgetary committees of the United States congress have approved a $1.3 billion contribution, but it looks like congress will not actually pass that budget anytime soon.  A close observer of this process suggested to me that the Obama administration is still trying to figure out the kind of contribution it will bring to next week’s conference.

So, stay tuned. I’ll stay on this story until throughout the next two weeks. Send me tips!

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