How France has made progress in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

Since 2000, France has been a driving force in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, diseases which together kill more than 5 million people each year despite being treatable and preventable. This year, the country has a chance to prove that it is still committed to ending the three killer diseases.

Civil society organizations are urging France to pledge $1.6 billion this year to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a 30% increase on its previous contribution in 2020. Such a promise would maintain France‘s decades-long reputation as a leader in global health research and activism.

The history of France in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

France has been at the forefront of the fight against AIDS since its discovery. In fact, it was French professors Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier who first identified the retrovirus responsible for AIDS at the Institut Pasteur in 1983. They went on to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008.

From there, the country would continue to progress.

“To fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, France has clearly chosen the multilateral approach,” Stéphanie Tchiombiano, coordinator of the French think tank Global Health 2030, told Global Citizen. “He was very involved in the creation of the Global Fund in 2002, then, four years later, in the creation of Unitaid.”

France, along with other governments including the United States and United Kingdom, the private sector, civil society and citizen activists, founded the Global Fund 20 years ago. The purpose of the fund is to pool global resources to invest in strategic programs to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Two decades after its creation, this international funding and partnership organization has helped save 44 million lives. In 2020 alone, the fund put nearly 22 million people on antiretroviral therapy for HIV, treated nearly 5 million people for tuberculosis, and distributed 188 million mosquito nets to protect children and families against malaria.

France played a decisive role in the creation of the Global Fund thanks to its political support, which “has never wavered”, Tchiombiano said. After the creation of the fund, the country continued to strengthen its commitment by participating in the governance of the fund. A French representative has always held a seat on the board, and Dr. Michel Kazatchkine from France served as the fund’s executive director from 2007 to 2012.

France also stands out for its financial contributions. It has committed €5.81 billion to the Global Fund to date, earning the country the titles of Europe’s top donor and second public donor. In 2019, France hosted the fund’s sixth replenishment in Lyon – a conference held every three years to secure new pledges from donors – and played a crucial role in ensuring the fund reached its replenishment target, in particular thanks to the personal leadership of President Macron (who will also have to decide what France’s contribution will be this year).

In 2019, France pledged €1.296 billion, a 20% increase on its previous contribution, to help the fund reach its goal of raising $14 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and HIV. malaria over three years.

France is a founding member of Unitaid, a global health initiative that uses innovative financing to increase funding and access to the tools needed to prevent and treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Since its inception, the organization has helped introduce life-saving medicines, including HIV antiretroviral drugs used in Africa, drug-resistant tuberculosis treatments, and specialized malaria drugs for children and pregnant women.

A particularly noteworthy contribution in terms of innovative financing is the French tax on plane tickets. The inexpensive tax (ranging from €1 to €40, depending on class) which applies to passengers departing from France has raised more than €1 billion since it was introduced in 2006, with Unitaid being the main beneficiary.

What France can do to advance the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The Global Fund’s 2021 results report revealed significant declines in TB treatment, HIV prevention awareness and HIV testing compared to pre-pandemic figures.

The Global Fund’s 2022 goal is to raise $18 billion to save 20 million lives and get the world back on track to meet the goal of defeating the three diseases by 2030. Donors will meet at the seventh replenishment conference, which will take place in the United States before the end of the year, to make their pledges.

Global Citizen, along with other civil society organizations, is asking France to pledge $1.6 billion over the next three years, a 30% increase from its last replenishment.

But this is only one step in the fight to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In fact, Tchiombiano would say it’s a bare minimum in the grand scheme of improving global health and reducing health inequalities around the world. She says the Global Fund must do more to prioritize the Sustainable Development Goals in its program and collaborate with international partners that exist beyond the health sector.

“If the ‘siloed’ approach has allowed us to achieve results that we never dared to imagine in the early 2000s, now is the time to move on to a new, more targeted chapter in the fight against the three diseases. on strengthening health systems,” said Tchiombiano. “Ending the three pandemics will only be possible when the fight against them becomes structural and integrated into the service packages of health institutions.”