RESULTS UK, in collaboration with leading non-governmental health organisations, has released a report that highlights how the Global Fund funding shortfall and changes in eligibility criteria risk undermining momentous achievements that have been made in the fight against TB and HIV in the Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) region.
The report outlines how the lack of available funds to the region means that the crucial scaling up of programmes tackling TB and HIV will simply not be able to go ahead. The report calls upon the leadership of the European Union (EU) to ensure that the needs of those living in the EECA countries are addressed and lives are saved. RESULTS calls on the EU to demonstrate leadership and to help fill the funding gap.
Highlighting the necessity for action, the report states,
“The European region is home to the highest rates of MDR-TB (multidrug-resistant TB) in the world and, with 81,000 MDR-TB cases in 2010 alone, accounts for nearly 20 percent of the global burden.”
The report details the cases of Belarus, Romania and Russia as examples in order to highlight the problems the region faces. Changes to the eligibility criteria have restricted funds being made available to middle-income countries. In Romania, for example, the report notes how Global Fund grants provide an uninterrupted supply of second-line TB drugs. Jonathan Stillo, a medical anthropologist who has researched tuberculosis in Romania since 2006, explained:
“In Romania, the Global Fund grant ensured an uninterrupted supply of medication used to treat drug resistant TB, including two drugs that are not available anywhere else in the country. A reliable and ongoing supply of these drugs is critical to prevent a further increase in drug resistance, and this funding crisis is happening at a time when there is no viable substitute for the Global Fund in the region.”
Addressing the impact of the funding shortfall is critical. The report urges the EU to adopt several recommendations, including honouring its current commitment to the Global Fund and making new resources available and, as a member of the Global Fund Board, revising eligibility criteria to ease restrictions on middle-income countries.
Over the past decade, the Global Fund has made a considerable difference in the fight against HIV and TB in EECA. It is crucial that the EU step up to ensure that progress that has been made is not lost.
We urge you to read the report and to get in touch with your MEP to encourage them to take further action.