WASHINGTON, D.C. — AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are global epidemics that affect millions of people every day. H.Res. 517: The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria is in its Sixth Replenishment. H. Res, 517 seeks to reduce the number of people who contract and die from these diseases by affirming the United States’ support for the Global Fund. Additionally, the resolution encourages other donor countries to increase their support.
The Global Fund
Founded in 2002, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria is “an effective partnership of governments, the private sector, civil society and affected communities” to accelerate the end of the epidemics of AIDS, TB and malaria. To date, the Global Fund partnership has saved 32 million lives. The organization is the largest multilateral provider of grants for health systems around the world. It aims to build sustainable health systems, promote human rights and achieve gender equality.
Key components of the Global Fund’s strategy include improving community responses, integrating health services, strengthening procurement and supply chains and training healthcare workers. Further, the U.S. invests upwards of $1 billion every year to support these efforts. The initiative attempts to combat three particular diseases of AIDS, TB and malaria.
HIV and AIDS
The Global Fund has made significant progress in combating the AIDS epidemic. Since 2018, 18.9 million people have received antiretroviral (ARV) therapy for HIV in countries where the Global Fund operates. The Global Fund has helped to “cut annual AIDS-related deaths and new infections by half” since the height of the HIV crisis in the 1990s-2000s. Now, it is possible for someone who is HIV-positive to live as long as someone who is HIV-negative if they have access to treatment.
TB is the deadliest infectious disease in the world and is among the 10 leading causes of mortality globally. Further, eradicating TB is especially challenging because it is very contagious. An infected person can spread the disease to up to 15 people per year by coughing and sneezing if left untreated. Since many “missing cases” of TB go undetected, millions of more people contract the disease each year.
In 2017, the Global Fund worked to solve this problem by investing $125 million in 13 countries with 75 percent of the missing cases of TB. The Global Fund and its partners have invested in new drugs to fight this disease. Additionally, the Global Fund has taken a new approach to increase the speed and accuracy of diagnosis, particularly for drug-resistant strains.
Over the past two decades, the Global Fund’s fight against malaria has seen great success. Since 2000, malaria deaths have declined by 60 percent globally. The Global Fund can attribute some of its success to the distribution of “long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, which are one of the most cost-effective tools to reduce malaria incidence.” Additionally, another effective strategy includes utilizing targeted seasonal prevention campaigns. The Global Fund also works to improve tools for prevention and treatment. This includes using a new vaccine and mosquito nets that would combat insecticide resistance.
House Resolution 517
As its title suggests, H.Res. 517: Supporting the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and its Sixth Replenishment compels the United States and its partners to continue to support the Global Fund in its campaign against AIDS, TB, and malaria. In addition, the Resolution encourages donor countries to increase their economic support for the Sixth Global Fund Replenishment. The resolution also urges recipient countries to meet “ambitious co-financing commitments to sustain progress in ending the epidemics of AIDS, TB, and malaria.”
On July 24, 2019, Representative Eliot L. Engel [D-NY-16] introduced H.Res. 517 in the House where it was then referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. On Sept. 25, the Committee held Consideration and a Mark-Up Session, after which, committee members unanimously voted for an order to be reported to the House. Then, on Dec. 3, the House considered the resolution with forty minutes of debate. Later that day, the House of Representatives agreed to H.Res. 517 by a voice vote.
AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are epidemics that afflict people all over the world. With the help of investments from the U.S. and others, the Global Fund has made tremendous strides in fighting these diseases and has saved millions of lives. The passage of H.Res. 517 will build on this progress.
– Sarah Frazer