BERN, Switzerland, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Federal Council has approved a contribution of CHF 60 million for the 2014-2016 period for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). Switzerland was one of the founders of the Geneva-based fund in 2002 and has been one of its key partners since the beginning. Malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa. These three diseases are among the most important factors hampering development.
Three diseases – malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis – are among the most frequent causes of death worldwide, and especially in Africa. Malaria remains the leading parasitic disease worldwide. In 99 countries, approximately 219 million new cases are registered every year. About half of the world’s population lives in areas affected by malaria. The WHO estimates that in countries in Africa with endemic malaria the disease lowers economic growth by 1.3 percentage points per year.
Some 2.5 million people are still becoming newly infected with HIV every year and more than 1.7 million people die of AIDS-related illnesses every year worldwide. In the case of tuberculosis, the estimated number of annual deaths is 1.4 million. HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis frequently occur in combination, making them very difficult to treat in developing countries.
Nevertheless, considerable progress has been made in the fight against these three diseases over the past ten years. For example, new HIV infections declined by 33% worldwide, and by more than 50% among children in medium-income countries. Some 8 million people in Africa are currently receiving antiretroviral therapy – a twenty-fold increase from 2003. Significant progress has also been made in the fight against tuberculosis: the TB mortality rate has fallen by approximately 41% since 1990. The UN’s millennium development goal of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases by 2015 and gradually reversing their incidence is thus within reach.
The fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis is a high priority for international development cooperation as well as for Switzerland. The significant progress achieved so far can no doubt be attributed amongst others to the efforts of GFATM, which is the biggest backer in the fight against these three diseases.