With the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Pledging Conference quickly approaching, there is an opportunity for Canada to work in solidarity with global communities to ensure a safer, equitable and healthier future for all. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a proven mechanism working to end these diseases and the preventable suffering they cause around the world. The international partnership supports a people-centered, localized approach to care that has saved an estimated 50 million lives since its creation in 2002.
With its seventh replenishment taking place during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Global Fund is urgently calling on donor countries, including Canada, to mobilize USD$18 billion to save a projected 20 million lives over the next three-year funding period. This will have an immense impact on improving health outcomes for the world’s most vulnerable populations, particularly for women and girls, in communities around the world.
Here are three reasons why the Global Fund is a necessary investment that supports women and girls to realize their full potential.
In many countries, girls and women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of disease risk as well as the burden of caring for those that are sick with limited access to quality health services in their communities. Women and girls face high risks of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, cervical cancer and face barriers to access health information and critical services. With a fully funded Global Fund, there could be a 68% reduction in new HIV infections and HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women in most affected countries could be reduced by 72%. Scaling up services and interventions that reduce gender-related risks and vulnerabilities to infection in health systems, the Global Fund will create real, sustainable impact for women and girls worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures, including school closures and the cancellation of essential health services, in particular sexual and reproductive health services, has created a catastrophic ripple effect for women and girls. The resulting negative impact threatens to reverse decades of progress in the fights against HIV and gender equality worldwide. The stakes are high for the Global Fund to regain lost ground in the fight to defeat HIV, TB and malaria in vulnerable communities that are still experiencing the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. Now is the time to build resiliency and rebuild social, political and economic systems in ways that empower and protect us all! Creating a safe and supportive environment that encourages and enables women and girls to access essential health services will fulfill the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending TB, malaria, and AIDS by 2030 (Devex, 2022).
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender discrimination and face numerous inequalities across social, economic and health systems. While there is a long way to go to ensure that all women and girls can protect themselves from health risks and ensure their own well-being, the Global Fund has seen strong results from adapting more gender-responsive, woman and girl-centered approaches in their programming. With a commitment to human rights and equitable access to quality services, the Global Fund invests in gender transformative approaches to life-saving services while also working alongside women and girls as leaders and agents of change to advance gender equality in their communities. This approach will bring the global community closer to a shared goal of equitable healthcare for all.