Fighting tuberculosis worldwide requires $4.8 billion each year. Over the next three years, however, health experts fear a third of the budgetary requirement may not be funded.
The World Health Organization and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have identified a funding gap of $1.6 billion in 118 low- and middle-income countries eligible for financing from the Global Fund. The rest, the groups estimate, could come from the pockets of those countries depending on their economic growth and political commitment.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul warned Monday that efforts to raise money this year should be effective.
The Global Fund’s biggest donor, the United States, faces deep cuts to foreign aid this year, as sequestration took effect this month. For this year, the United States has pledged about $1.65 billion or 45 percent of the total pledge to the Global Fund.
Based on estimates, InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based development nongovernmental organizations, has noted that U.S. funding for the Global Fund would be reduced by about $55 million this year.
$800 million for treatment of multidrug-resistant TB.
$600 million for expanded diagnosis and treatment for drug-susceptible TB.
$200 million for TB and HIV collaborative activities, excluding antiretroviral treatments for TB patients living with HIV.
The shortfall is actually higher if funding for rapid diagnostics and laboratory work, and research and development are also taken into account.
Annual funding for rapid diagnostics is pegged at $600 million, while research and development costs are about $2 billion. Over the next three years, the budget for research and development is short by $1.4 billion. Meanwhile, the gap for rapid diagnostics has yet to be ascertained.
Across the world’s regions, Africa will experience the most significant shortfall, some $930 million per year. With a budgetary gap of $300 million, Europe is the second-hardest-hit by the shortfall.
WHO notes that neither Africa nor Europe are on track to achieve the global target of halving TB deaths by 2015.
“It is critical that we raise the funding that is urgently needed to control this disease,” said the Global Fund’s Dybul. “If we don’t act now, our costs could skyrocket. It is invest now or pay forever.”
In 36 low-income countries, the total annual gap is estimated to be at $500 million.
If the funding gap is filled, an estimated 17 million people could be treated and 7 million lives saved from the second most deadly infectious disease worldwide.
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