In June 2023 the WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (the Global Fund) committed to a revised Strategic Framework for Collaboration. This is designed to build “stronger and more resilient health systems” and encourage collaboration with positive effects at country, regional, and global level. It is a five-year framework that builds on a previous agreement, signed in 2018. It also aligns with the Global Fund Strategy and the WHO General Programme of Work, which “put communities at the centre of the health response” and address pandemic preparedness and climate change challenges.
Fighting AIDS, TB, and malaria
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. Remarked that “health budgets globally are strained and under pressure”.
“It is imperative for our two organisations to continue to work together to support countries to expand access to services for the three diseases as part of their journey towards universal health coverage.”
He admitted that we have seen “slowing progress” towards ending the epidemics of these diseases, which, coupled with “emerging health challenges”, requires “stronger collaboration” than ever.
Health systems under pressure
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, agreed that this partnership is “more critical than ever” due to “interlocking and intersecting crises”.
“Crises shock global systems and roll back gains, with the world’s most vulnerable people bearing the brunt. Organisations like ours are most effective when we collaborate closely with national governments and other trusted partners to strengthen local, community-driven systems for health.”
Achievements so far
Although progress has slowed, WHO and the Global Fund recognise “significant achievements at country level”:
- 20 countries are now implementing, in a more efficient and cost-effective way, differentiated service delivery for HIV testing, treatment, advanced HIV disease care, as well as virtual interventions to reach those unaware of their HIV status.
- Collaboration has enabled early guidance and surveys on dual testing for COVID-19 and TB, allowing for improved detection of people with TB through the innovations adopted during and after the COVID-19 emergency.
- Strategic initiatives on malaria enabled accelerated progress towards malaria elimination. Since 2018, eight countries have been certified malaria-free by WHO, with five more preparing for certification in 2023 and 2024.
- The partnership also provides the foundation to accelerate the implementation of innovative approaches, such as the new WHO Insecticide Treated Nets Guidelines for malaria and the scale-up of new-shorter treatments for multidrug-resistant TB.
- Valuable support was provided in the development of 50 evidence-based and costed national strategic plans aligned to the latest WHO guidelines, serving as a basis for high-quality funding requests to the Global Fund.
- WHO’s work to track health expenditure in 59 low- and middle-income countries has informed national health policy. Joint work to support cross-programme efficiency analysis in 13 countries has reduced fragmentation and duplication.
More work to do
Despite these achievements, work is left to “accelerate progress” towards ending AIDS, TB, and malaria epidemics and to “build strong health systems that are also capable of responding to the next emergency”.
The new framework divides the 35 areas for collaboration into 4 categories:
- Health policies and normative guidance
- Advocacy and health governance
- Health products and innovations
- Technical support and capacity building
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