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Nearly 5 Million Lives Saved Through AIDS, Malaria, TB Treatment

A mother and her child sit on a bed covered with a mosquito net near Bagamoyo, 70 km north of Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, 30 Oct 2009
A mother and her child sit on a bed covered with a mosquito net near Bagamoyo, 70 km north of Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam, 30 Oct 2009

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria reports nearly 5 million lives have been saved since 2002 through programs it has supported for the treatment of these three killer diseases. A new report shows the fund's multi-billion dollar investment is paying big dividends in improving the health of millions of people in developing countries.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has contributed more than $19 billion to combat AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. The money has supported more than 600 programs in 144 countries. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been the major recipients.

The results are impressive. The fund reports 2.5 million people infected with HIV currently are being treated with antiretroviral therapy and this has resulted in a significant decline in AIDS deaths in many countries, including Ethiopia and Malawi.

It says around 6 million people with active tuberculosis are being treated for the disease. And, this too, is resulting in fewer deaths globally.

Through its malaria prevention program, the fund has distributed more than 100 million insecticide-treated nets. The report says 10 of the countries in Africa with the highest incidents of the illness have reported declines in new malaria cases and a decline in child mortality of 50 to 80 percent.

The fund's Director of Strategy, Performance and Evaluation, Rifat Atun, says these programs saved at least 3,600 lives every day in 2009, and even more can be saved through continued funding of these programs.

"We can, for example, given the rate of investment and the scale at the moment we have, eliminate malaria as a public health problem, decline the mortality of under five in children, mothers and beyond," noted Atun. "We can prevent millions of more HIV infections and also in tuberculosis. But, most importantly, we can look to a world that is free of HIV infection in children. We can virtually eliminate transmission of HIV from mother to child."

But Atun, cautions continued progress will require the partnership to continue to work in the effective way in which it has done. He says support must be maintained for the countries that have been able to achieve these results.

The Global Fund is a combination public-private partnership among governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities. Most of its money comes from the G7 industrialized countries. But, private organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also contribute significant amounts.

The Global Fund says it will be able to reach several health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015, if it receives the money it needs to continue scaling up its activities in the coming years.

The fund is setting its sights on reducing both child and maternal mortality rates by three quarters, to halt the spread of HIV and to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.