On the eve of World AIDS Day on December 1, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has for the first time in its decade-long existence suspended all new grants because of lack of funding. According to the fund director Christoph Benn the Fund has to date distributed US$8.5 bn (6.4 bn Euros, 5.5 bn GBP) on projects worldwide, and promised a further US$1.5 for the next two years.
the Fund is also concerned that it might not be able to meet its target of increasing funding to scale up services in poorer countries. Thus the fund will attempt to guarantee continued funding for those already on treatment but will not provide funding for treating new cases. This is a major setback for the millennium project to have 3.5 million people with advanced HIV receiving anti-retroviral drugs by 2015. Mike Mandelbaum, executive of the charity TB Allert, talking to the BMJ, spoke of ‘catastrophic effect’ of reduced funding leading to ‘many avoidable deaths’. Similar concerns were raised by Awa Marie Coll-Seck of the Roll Back Malaria partnership who warned of losing ‘the tremendous gains made in malaria control in recent years’. Malaria remains the top cause of death globally.