The Unknown Impact of Dutch Development Funding: Over 40 Million Lives Saved

The Unknown Impact of Dutch Development Funding: Over 40 Million Lives Saved

Over the past twenty years, an estimated 44 million lives have been saved with, among other things, Dutch development money spent through the Global Fund, the international partnership in the global fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. "The Netherlands has every reason to be proud of this investment," said Global Fund director Peter Sands. "We are very grateful to the Dutch - without their contribution, these would have been different numbers."

Around the year 2000, Kofi Annan, the now-deceased former UN Secretary-General, could not have expected that his vision of setting up the Global Fund would have such an impact. Since 2002, in the countries where the Global Fund has invested, deaths from AIDS, TB and malaria have been reduced by 46% - as the organisation noted a few months ago in their results report

The Global Fund is mainly financed by traditional donor countries, with hefty contributions from affected countries, companies and philanthropists, such as Bill and Melinda Gates. Every three years, the Global Fund requests contributions from the global community; world leaders meet for this purpose. In 2019, the Dutch government pledged € 156 million.

A pillar of support

The Netherlands, which over the past two decades has proven to be the organisation's tenth largest public sponsor, is considered one of the first pillars of support for the Global Fund. Especially around combating HIV and TB, Dutch insights on building effective programmes were adopted at an early stage. Furthermore, in the execution of the programmes, the Dutch emphasis on human rights, the importance of women, girls and the LGBTI community, as well as sex workers and drug users, has been embraced by the Global Fund.

Transparency

After a transparent review of the proposals, the funds raised by the Global Fund trickle down to individual countries. Those countries determine who the implementing agencies will be. These can be government agencies as well as civil society organisations. Implementing and complementary roles are played by various Dutch organisations, including KNCV Tuberculosis Fund, Cordaid and Aidsfonds.

Results

"In my view, it is hard to find Dutch tax money that is spent in an even more impactful way," says Mustapha Gidado, director of the KNCV Tuberculosis Fund, the organisation that fights TB worldwide, in close cooperation with the Global Fund. Since 2002, the number of TB deaths has dropped by 28% in countries targeted by the Global Fund.

Since 2002, malaria deaths have declined by 45% in countries where the Global Fund invested. And for HIV, the numbers are even more impressive. Since the peak in 2004, the number of deaths due to AIDS has decreased by 68%.

COVID-19

In addition to these encouraging results, announced a few months ago on the occasion of the Global Fund's 20th anniversary, the Global Fund’s role is also proving essential in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. It plays a key role in all non-vaccination related activities in the fight against COVID-19 in less developed countries; via the so-called 'ACT-A initiative'. The G20 recently expressed its support for this programme. 

Since April 2020, the Global Fund has helped more than a hundred less developed countries fight the pandemic with over €3.6 billion. The Netherlands contributed a total of € 27 million. The Global Fund's operational infrastructure, as well as the available capacity to deal with HIV, TB and malaria, have been further built upon.

Setbacks

But, unfortunately, there were not only successes. Especially in the past year and a half, there have been plenty of setbacks. In a short amount of time, the Global Fund saw the fight against the three major infectious diseases weaken significantly due to the increased attention around COVID-19. TB and HIV have been hit especially hard.

More funding needed

In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis in countries where the Global Fund invests has decreased by 19%. And the number of people reached for HIV prevention programmes declined by 11%. Meanwhile, HIV testing declined by 22% compared to 2019.

These are alarming figures, which highlights that countries and organisations must do everything in their power to ensure that the gains made in recent years do not slip away permanently. To do this, more is needed in the next three years than the €12.7 billion pledged by the global community in 2019. The exact amount will be announced early next year.

Global Fund impact
Coverage of treatment and prevention interventions in countries where the Global Fund invests (graphic Global Fund)
Global Fund impact
Coverage of treatment and prevention interventions in countries where the Global Fund invests (graphic Global Fund)

Cooperation

"But despite the recent setbacks, especially with the COVID crisis, progress has been made in the fight against AIDS and the other diseases. We know what to do and with whom we can best cooperate. In fighting these infectious diseases, we have shown that we can reach millions of people everywhere across the globe with prevention tools and life-saving medicines," said Aidsfonds Director Mark Vermeulen. "If we continue to work together, both internationally and with the people affected by these diseases, we can handle any health crisis. And that is something that gives humanity hope."

Want to learn more about the Global Fund and the impact made? Read this factsheet (in Dutch) or visit this website!

 

(This article was originally published in the Dutch newspapers Het AD and de NRC)

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