Today the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) signed a new and revised Strategic Framework for Collaboration, designed to build stronger and more resilient health systems and maximize collaboration and impact in support of country, regional and global responses to major communicable diseases.
The new five-year framework builds on the previous agreement signed in 2018. It aligns with the 2023-2028 Global Fund Strategy and the WHO General Programme of Work, which put communities at the centre of the health response and also address pandemic preparedness and challenges posed by climate change. The framework fits with broader collaboration platforms to accelerate support to countries to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“As health budgets globally are strained and under pressure, it is imperative for our two organizations to continue to work together to support countries to expand access to services for the three diseases as part of their journey towards universal health coverage,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “In light of slowing progress towards ending the AIDS, TB, and malaria epidemics, coupled with emerging health challenges, stronger collaboration between WHO and the Global Fund is needed more than ever.”
With WHO and the Global Fund’s common mission and commitment to serve countries, the new Strategic Framework for Collaboration will further strengthen and extend collaboration.
“At a time when the world is beset by interlocking and intersecting crises, from conflict to climate change, the partnership between the Global Fund and WHO is more critical than ever,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “Crises shock global systems and roll back gains, with the world’s most vulnerable people bearing the brunt. Organizations like ours are most effective when we collaborate closely with national governments and other trusted partners to strengthen local, community-driven systems for health.”
Continued collaboration over the past years has contributed to significant achievements at country level:
· 20 countries are now implementing, in a more efficient and cost-effective way, differentiated service delivery for HIV testing, treatment, advanced HIV disease care, as well as virtual interventions to reach those unaware of their HIV status.
· Collaboration has enabled early guidance and surveys on dual testing for COVID-19 and TB, allowing for improved detection of people with TB through the innovations adopted during and after the COVID-19 emergency.
· Strategic initiatives on malaria enabled accelerated progress towards malaria elimination. Since 2018, eight countries have been certified malaria-free by WHO, with five more preparing for certification in 2023 and 2024.
· The partnership also provides the foundation to accelerate the implementation of innovative approaches, such as the new WHO Insecticide Treated Nets Guidelines for malaria and the scale-up of new, shorter treatments for multidrug-resistant TB.
· Valuable support was provided in the development of 50 evidence-based and costed national strategic plans aligned to the latest WHO guidelines, serving as a basis for high-quality funding requests to the Global Fund.
· Global health financing remains an important area for continued collaboration to help countries develop stronger, more sustainable and efficient health financing systems. WHO’s work to track health expenditure in 59 low- and middle-income countries, has informed national health policy dialogue. Joint work to support cross-programme efficiency analysis in 13 countries has reduced fragmentation and duplication.
Even with this level of progress, much work remains to be done in countries to accelerate progress towards ending AIDS, TB and malaria epidemics and to build strong health systems that are also capable of responding to the next emergency.
Through this new framework, WHO and the Global Fund will be leveraging their comparative strengths across 35 areas for collaboration divided into 4 categories:
1. Health policies and normative guidance
2. Advocacy and health governance
3. Health products and innovations
4. Technical support and capacity building