A committee of MPs has voiced concerns that delays in a long promised increase in the UK contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria could put lives at risk.
The International Development Select Committee’s comments came as they published their report of conclusions today following hearings they held on the funding crisis at the Global Fund. The funding crisis came to a head in November last year, when all scale up in programming across the three diseases was cancelled until 2014.
Diarmaid McDonald, Stop AIDS Campaign Coordinator said:
“This group of MPs have looked hard at the UK position and urged them to accelerate their increased contribution. We urge the government to heed their call, and move as quickly as possible to up the UK commitment and to bring other donors with them before lives are put at stake. The US is delivering on a 40% increased pledge made with the rest of the world in 2010. It’s high time for the UK to catch up.”
The committee noted that the Global Fund has had difficulties over the last year, but commended its transparency and the pace with which it is tackling problems and implementing reforms. In the last fortnight the Global Fund has announced it now has additional resources to allow it to open a new funding window this year. But McDonald said the need for a UK increase has not disappeared:
“In the three years from 2008-2010 the Global Fund board approved well over $6 billion. Even with the new funding window announced this month, the Fund will have approved far less than $2 billion for new programming in the three years 2011-13. This is not enough to achieve the pace of scale up we need to reach the Millennium Development Goals on health and get HIV treatment to the 8 million people still waiting. The UK’s long delayed increase and their leadership in securing more from others are still desperately needed. When it comes, that increase must be a doubling for 2012 and 2013.”
The committee highlighted the disconnect between the government’s position on the potential impact of the shortfall in funding at the Fund and the consequences detailed by NGOs in their evidence. NGOs have published a number of in-depth country studies showing the potentially significant impact of the funding cuts but it is unclear what DFID is basing its assessment on. The committee called for independent analysis to assess whether NGOs were being alarmist, or the Secretary of State was being complacent. Mike Podmore, who compiled a report on the crisis for the International AIDS Alliance and gave evidence to the International Development Committee said:
“We strongly believe that the impacts felt on the ground will be measured in millions of lives lost unless funding to allow scale up is secured. Nothing our partners have seen in places like Burma and the DRC gives us reason to share the Secretary of State’s confidence that this will not be a significant problem.”
The committee highlighted the G20 as a potential opportunity for the UK to announce its increased contribution, a call echoed by shadow international development secretary, Ivan Lewis MP. Podmore who is Chair of the UK consortium on AIDS and International Development added:
“We have been calling on the government to grab the chance the G20 offers to leverage more for the Fund from a range of donors by leading a pledging opportunity there. It may now be too late for the G20, but there can be no justification for waiting for another review of the Fund that stretches into 2013. We call on the Secretary of State to immediately announce a firm date later this year when they will increase their commitment, and to put in the hours before that moment to ensure the UK is not giving alone, but is bringing others with them.”