Spain commits 130 million euros to the Global Fund for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has announced that Spain will renew its commitment to the Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria with a contribution of 130 million euros —which come from the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs— for the next three years. It is 30% more than the 100 million it had granted in the previous three years, a percentage in line with the increase in funds from the rest of the countries. “International contributions are essential to meet global challenges. And we have to prioritize the most vulnerable”, he said in his intervention in the opening speech of the meeting goalkeepers of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in New York.

The The Global Fund’s goal is to raise $18 billion (same amount of euros at the current exchange rate), of which the United States, host country of the seventh conference of donors of this organization, also in New York, has secured 6,000 million, provided that the rest of the countries cover the rest. On its Twitter account, the entity thanked the Spanish government for responding to the call.

It remains to be seen, at the end of the day, if the international community responds to the largest funding request in the history of the Global Fund. The amount is 30% higher than the budget obtained in 2019 —14,000 million— to continue for the next three years with a work which, according to the agency’s calculations, has managed to prevent 44 million deaths since the beginning of its journey, 20 years ago. And with which he hopes to save another 20 million lives until 2026.

The increase is justified by the increased need. The covid-19 pandemic has been a setback in the fight against these three infectious diseases. In 2020, more than 2.4 million people died from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, 4.5% more than in 2019.

In 2020, more than 2.4 million people died from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, 4.5% more than in 2019

For Leire Pajín, head of international development at ISGlobal, the amount committed by Spain is acceptable, taking into account the situation of economic stress triggered by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, and inflation. Although it is lower than the request of civil society organizations, which asked the Spanish Government to raise its contribution to 180 million. “We had asked that Spain be ambitious. And with this announcement a trend is consolidated: that the country continues to support the Global Fund and increase the contribution”, celebrates the expert. “It complies with what has been requested of the countries.”

Spain ceased to be a Global Fund donor in 2011 and it was not until 2019 when he returned to the largest club of countries that support the fight against these diseases. “The question is not only how much Spain gives, but whether it gets involved and has the capacity to influence. Because global health policies are decided in these mechanisms”, analyzes Rafael Vilasanjuán, member of the steering committee of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines. It is in these multilateral forums where the Spanish presence can contribute to promoting its international health cooperation agenda in regions such as Latin America, comments the expert, as soon as he learned of the announcement in the Jazz Lincoln Center auditorium, where he is also attending the Goalkeepers meeting.

We had asked Spain to be ambitious and with this announcement a trend is consolidated: for the country to continue supporting the Global Fund and increasing its contribution

Leire Pajín, Head of International Development at ISGlobal

Spain was not at the table of the leaders of international solidarity for global health, for example, when in 2017 it requested that the European Medicines Agency be located in Spanish territory. Finally, such a body was established in Amsterdam. This capacity for influence and global presence is what is known in the jargon of international diplomacy as soft power (soft power). Although then it was related fall of Barcelona as a possible venue with political tensions of process in Catalonia, Spain was also not in a position to show off its chest as a relevant actor in the defense of global health.

“The increase in Spain’s contribution to the Global Fund is great news. It is the minimum figure that civil society had requested from the Government, ”says Vanessa López, director of Salud por Derecho, in a telephone message. “Spain is not only going to help prevent millions of deaths and infections over the next few years, but it is also going to have a great opportunity to strategically contribute to the international global health agenda,” she agrees with Pajín and Vilasanjuán. Although she recalls that, with 130 million, the country is “lagging behind the donors in its environment.” With certainty, however, only Germany’s commitment to grant 1,300 million euros among the countries of the European Union is known.

In a joint talk with the co-founders of the Gates Foundation at the Goalkeepers event, Bill Gates celebrated the news of Spain’s commitment, which also includes an additional 15 million for the Global Fund’s special mechanism for preparing for future pandemics, according to knowledgeable sources.

Gates also thanked Sánchez for the commitment of 236.5 million euros to fight for food security in the world, announced by the president yesterday. The philanthropist has dedicated his annual analysis in the Goalkeepers report to the problem of hunger.

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Spain commits 130 million euros to the Global Fund for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria