Report: Climate, Conflicts Hamper Fight Against AIDS, TB, Malaria

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Sept. 18, 2023 -- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria says it may not reach its goal of ending those three diseases by 2030 because of climate change, conflict, deepening inequalities, and growing threats to human rights.

“Working together, the Global Fund partnership has saved 59 million lives over the past two decades,” Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, said in a news release that accompanied the release of the fund’s annual report.  “Despite several record-breaking results achieved in 2022, we will not achieve the 2030 targets unless we take extraordinary steps.”

The fund has recovered from a slowdown caused by the international COVID-19 pandemic, the release said, but faces other problems. 

Some diseases are spreading because of climate change, the fund said. Malaria is spreading to highland parts of Africa that were previously too cold for mosquitoes carrying the illness. Floods and cyclones are causing outbreaks in places such as Malawi and Pakistan. Food insecurity and water scarcity are causing groups to move, making them vulnerable to diseases like TB.

Because of conflict, existing health services are stretched, prevention interventions are interrupted, and supply chains break down, the fund said. 

“Across multiple countries, including Sudan, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Myanmar, the Global Fund partnership has to overcome immense challenges in striving to ensure the most vulnerable get the services they need,” the release said.

The report listed some positives. In 2022, HIV prevention services increased by 22% compared to 2021 and the number of people diagnosed and treated for TB went up by 26%. The number of malaria cases treated increased by 11%. 

Innovations are helping the battle against these three illnesses, the fund says.

A vaginal ring that releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine is a woman-controlled measure that helps prevent the spread of HIV. New treatments and new diagnostic tools such as mobile X-rays and lower-cost molecular diagnostics are being used in the fight agaisnt TB. The spread of malaria should be slowed by the use of dual active ingredient bed nets that combine the insecticides pyrethroid and chlorfenapyr.