Bill Gates’ recent announcement in Davos to donate $750 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was a huge boost to the organization during a critical time of internal leadership changes and fundraising uncertainty. Since 2002, the Global Fund has provided about $15.1 billion to 150 countries to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, attracting significant funding from the world’s major donors and leading the fight against all three diseases.
Many development experts believe that the Global Fund’s progress in the fight against malaria is its most impressive accomplishment, resulting in a 25 percent decrease in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2010 and cutting malaria deaths by nearly a third in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organization, the Global Fund allocates about 30 percent of its total resources to malaria, which represents over half of the total funding for malaria control across the world.
Since the collapse of the first malaria eradication program in the 1970s, efforts to overhaul key programs and design new frameworks have brought the issue back to the forefront. Important actors like the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and the World Bank have undergone structural changes to improve their malaria outreach and programming. Other champions for the cause have been the U.N. Foundation’s “Nothing But Nets” campaign, the nongovernmental organization Malaria No More and influential people like George W. Bush, Gordon Brown, and Bill and Melinda Gates. Corporations such as Novartis, which has delivered over 400 million malaria treatments, Vestergaard Frandsen, which has provided about 135 million bed nets, and ExxonMobil, which has spent over $100 million on programs to counter malaria in developing countries, have also helped elevate the issue and made an enormous impact. This considerable support for malaria control eventually led to its inclusion as one of the three diseases to receive financial support from the Global Fund.
The announcement and commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation could not have happened at a better time for the Global Fund, but fear remains that the worldwide fight against malaria could lose steam due to funding shortfalls.