Covid has a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria: Global Fund

A patient walks past an HIV testing tent in Harare, Zimbabwe, in June 2019. – AFP file photo

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released Wednesday by the Global Fund.

“To mark our 20th anniversary, we hoped to focus this year’s report on the extraordinary stories of courage and resilience that have made possible the progress we have made against HIV, TB and malaria over the past two decades.” said Peter Sands, the Global Executive Director of the Fund.

“But the 2020 figures dictate a different direction. They confirm what we feared would happen when Covid-19 struck, ”he said.

“The impact of Covid-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and the communities we support has been devastating. For the first time in the history of the global fund, major programmatic results have declined. “

There have been “significant” declines in HIV testing and prevention services, the fund said.

Compared with 2019, the number of people reached by HIV prevention and treatment fell 11% last year, while HIV testing fell 22%, preventing new treatments in most countries.

Nevertheless, the number of people who received life-saving antiretroviral therapy against HIV in 2020 increased by 8.8% to reach 21.9 million “despite Covid-19”.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the fight against tuberculosis around the world has also been “catastrophic”, according to the report.

The number of people being treated for drug-resistant TB in countries where the Global Fund invests has fallen by “a narcotic” 19%, while those receiving treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB have seen an even larger drop of 37%, a- he declared.

The fund calculated that around 4.7 million people were treated for tuberculosis in 2020, around one million fewer than in 2019.

Interventions to fight malaria “appear to have been less severely affected by Covid-19 than the other two diseases,” according to the report.

“Thanks to adaptation measures and the diligence and innovation of community health workers, prevention activities have remained stable or increased compared to 2019.”

The number of mosquito nets distributed increased by 17 percent to 188 million and structures covered by indoor residual spraying increased by three percent.

Nonetheless, the Global Fund – which brings together governments, multilateral agencies, bilateral partners, civil society groups, people affected by disease and the private sector – said its “swift and determined response to Covid-19 prevented an even worse outcome. ”.

In 2020, the fund disbursed $ 4.2 billion to continue the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and approved additional funding of $ 980 million to respond to Covid-19.

The Global Fund has said that since its inception in 2002, it has saved 44 million lives and the number of deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria has fallen by 46 percent in the countries where it invests. – AFP







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