Why Every Dollar Counts for Global Health

Nearly 15 years ago, the global community came together to create the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a framework to support progress in worldwide development priorities. MDG 6, which aimed to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, has since served as a catalyst for significantly improving the health of millions.

International donors such as the Global Fund, in partnership with government, civil society, private sector and other health stakeholders, have made enormous strides toward MDG 6 and stemming the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Global Fund-supported programs have contributed to a more than 40 percent decline in HIV-related deaths, a 29 percent decrease in tuberculosis mortality, and a 48 percent drop in malaria deaths, respectively. Thanks to the collective efforts of the Global Fund and partners, 17 million lives have been saved from these epidemics. Even better, the Global Fund projects that 22 million lives will be saved from the three diseases by the end of 2016 -- a number greater than the population of the entire New York metropolitan region, or about one in 15 Americans.

On the heels of these MDG health successes, the United Nations is set to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this week. The SDGs are ambitious, aiming to create a blueprint for a world in 2030 that has eradicated poverty in all its forms, and has ended hunger and food insecurity. They also provide a historic opportunity to accelerate the global health impact we've seen under the MDGs, with SDG 3 aiming to promote healthy lives for everyone across the globe and at all ages.

Meeting this goal will only be possible through the accomplishment of SDG target 3.3, which calls for entirely ending the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other deadly diseases by 2030. The Global Fund will serve as a key player in meeting this target -- to date, Global Fund-supported programs have provided 8.1 million people with antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS, 548 million mosquito nets to protect children and families from malaria, and services to detect and treat 13.2 million cases of tuberculosis.

The Global Fund's ability to promote healthy lives stretches beyond the disease-specific SDG target. Investments toward improving maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), for example, will contribute toward the SDG 3.1 sub-target to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030. A Global Fund-supported program in Indonesia has distributed 1.4 million insecticide-treated nets to pregnant women and children in malaria-endemic regions. By providing these kinds of services during routine antenatal care, health workers are helping to stem the disease before it spreads through highly vulnerable populations.

Furthermore, with 78 percent of malaria deaths occurring in children under age 5 as of 2013, efforts to fight malaria will have a dramatic impact on the world's ability to meet the SDG 3.2 sub-target to end preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030. To meet this challenging goal, it will be critical for the global community to continue building on previous efforts and ensure that successes to date are not rolled back -- particularly as the threat of resistance to antimalarial drug artemisinin looms large. As the Global Fund provides nearly half of all international malaria funding, it will continue to play a substantial role in supporting this achievement.

The Global Fund's investments in fighting the three diseases also substantially influence overall health systems of countries with serious disease burdens, such as Afghanistan, where health system strengthening funding allows workers in local communities to be trained in diagnosing and treating patients. In Ghana, for example, the Global Fund has invested in a data management system that integrates paper and mobile phone reports from community health workers and remote health facilities, medical records from hospitals and clinics, epidemiological surveillance reports, human resource records and logistics reports on drugs and supplies. This linked infrastructure allows health workers to provide services more effectively and efficiently, both in treating the epidemics and administering general health care. Overall, more than one-third of Global Fund grants go toward initiatives like these to build sustainable systems for health.

Last but not least, the Global Fund's work additionally impacts SDG targets beyond the scope of health care, as investments in health support poverty elimination. Without access to proper prevention methods, treatment and care, individuals cannot work, impacting their ability to earn a living and raise a family. Investing in health can positively impact economies as well as businesses' bottom lines.

With an eye toward continued success under the SDGs, the Global Fund's upcoming replenishment in 2016 is crucial. These ambitious goals aim to accomplish a broad spectrum of worthy achievements, but many of those achievements will prove elusive unless they can be carried out by healthy populations. It will be more important than ever to call attention and resources to global health amid so many priorities. Every dollar in the 2016 replenishment will count in the Global Fund's efforts to create a healthy environment, which in turn will serve as a building block for so many other improvements to our society.