THE BLOG

Three Deadly Diseases, One Common Cause

06/19/2013 06:07 pm ET | Updated Aug 19, 2013

When Germany and other wealthy nations came together to create the Global Fund a decade ago, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria were leading causes of death in developing countries and a major source of poverty. But world leaders recognized that they could make dramatic gains against these three diseases by expanding the delivery of a few low-cost, lifesaving tools to those who needed them.

When I first became a global health advocate back in the 1990s, AIDS was claiming millions of lives in Africa and affordable treatment wasn't available. The only accurate TB test was more than 100 years old. And malaria parasites were becoming increasingly resistant to treatment.

Thanks to the generosity of Germany and other donor countries, the Global Fund played a key role in turning the page. In the past 10 years, the cost of HIV treatment has decreased by more than 99 percent. A revolutionary test has been introduced that can detect TB infection in less than two hours, providing more patients with access to timely treatment. The Global Fund has also played a major role in reducing Malaria in Africa by 33 percent.

But that is not enough. I am confident that Germany will continue to be a leader in the global fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. The strong financial commitments of Germany and other countries have already encouraged the United States to pledge $1 to the Global Fund for every $2 that other donors provide. Thanks to Germany, we are getting closer to the $5 billion annual target that the Global Fund needs to reach its ambitious goals.

With $5 billion per year, the Global Fund could ensure treatment for 17 million TB patients. It could prevent about 200,000 deaths from malaria annually. And its resources could increase the number of people with access to HIV treatment from eight million to 18 million. The Global Fund could also fund HIV prevention programs that would prevent one million new infections each year.

This is certainly a significant investment, but it is one that will pay back many times over.