Covid pushed back progress made on HIV, TB & malaria: Report


The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the fight and progress made against HIV, TB, and malaria worldwide in 2020, according to a new report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.

In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries dropped by a staggering 19 percent, with those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registering an even bigger drop of 37 percent.

The number of HIV-positive TB patients on antiretroviral treatment as well as TB treatment dropped by 16 percent.

The report also highlights significant declines in HIV testing and prevention services for key and vulnerable populations who were already disproportionately affected. Compared with 2019, the number of people reached with HIV prevention programs and services declined by 11 percent while young people reached with prevention services declined by 12 percent.

Mothers receiving medicine to prevent transmitting HIV to their babies dropped by 4.5 percent. HIV testing dropped by 22 percent, holding back HIV treatment initiation in most countries.

Interventions to combat malaria appear to have been less badly affected by Covid-19 than the other two diseases. Prevention activities remained stable or increased compared to 2019. In 2020, 11.5 million pregnant women received preventive therapy.

However, suspected cases of malaria tested fell by 4.3 percent and progress against the disease stalled.

“To mark our 20th anniversary, we had hoped to focus this year’s Results Report on the extraordinary stories of courage and resilience that made possible the progress we have achieved against HIV, TB and malaria over the last two decades,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, in a statement.

“But the 2020 numbers force a different focus. They confirm what we feared might happen when Covid-19 struck,” he added.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria organization was set up in 2002. Since then it has saved 44 million lives, decreased the number of deaths caused by AIDS, TB, and malaria by 46 percent in countries where the Global Fund invests.

As of August 2021, the organization has approved a total of $3.3 billion to more than 100 countries to adapt lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria programs, provide critical tests, treatments, and medical supplies, protect front-line health workers and urgently reinforce fragile systems for health.