GENEVA – The Global Fund announced today new guidance to enable countries to strengthen their response to the new coronavirus, COVID-19, by using existing grants in a swift, nimble and pragmatic way.
Working within its mandate to fight HIV, TB and malaria and to strengthen systems for health, the Global Fund is encouraging countries to reprogram savings from existing grants and to redeploy underutilized resources to mitigate the potential negative consequences of COVID-19 on health and health systems. In exceptional cases, countries may be able to reprogram funding from existing grants to COVID-19 response.
“As was the case with Ebola, the Global Fund is committed to a pragmatic and flexible approach in supporting countries in the fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “Our priority is to ensure continuity of lifesaving programs to end HIV, TB and malaria. However, COVID-19 could knock us off track. People infected with HIV, TB and malaria could prove more vulnerable to the new virus given that their immune systems are already under strain.”
Strong health systems are critical to help countries respond to COVID-19, and to reinforce health security. The Global Fund is the largest multilateral provider of grants to strengthen health systems, investing over $1 billion a year in key components such as community health workers, disease surveillance systems, supply chains, laboratory networks.
COVID-19 could derail progress on HIV, TB and malaria, through disruption to treatment or other interventions or supply chains of critical medicines and medical supplies. Experience from the 2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa suggests that unless mitigating action is taken, additional deaths from existing diseases such as malaria can be at least as high as those from the outbreak itself.
The Global Fund strongly encourages countries to consider and take prompt action under WHO guidance. Particular attention should be given to health worker protection, communication to affected communities, maintenance of essential services, supply chain coordination, early replenishment of stocks, disinfection of assets, and waste management.
Additional activities under the new COVID-19 guidelines include, but are not limited to, epidemic preparedness assessment, laboratory testing, sample transportation, use of surveillance infrastructure, infection control in health facilities, and information campaigns.
The Global Fund will deploy a fast-track decision making process for COVID-19-related requests for support.
The Global Fund continues to work closely with partners at global, regional and country levels on COVID-19 preparedness and response, from resource mobilisation for CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation), mobilising the private sector, securing the supply of vital medical products and expediting the development of diagnostics, to support WHO’s overall leadership of the global response.