A “devastating impact”. Because of Covid-19, the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis has experienced an unprecedented decline, the Global Fund to fight against these diseases lamented in its annual report on Wednesday.
For the first time since its creation in 2002, the Fund is reporting backtracking. It is particularly concerned about significant cuts in HIV testing and prevention services, and a sharp drop in the number of people tested and treated for tuberculosis. In 2020, the Fund disbursed $ 4.2 billion to continue to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
The 2020 figures “confirm what we feared when the Covid-19 appeared”, summarizes Peter Sands, executive director of the Fund, quoted in the report. “For the first time in our history, our main indicators are on the decline”. Covid-19 has also severely disrupted access to health systems and treatment in many countries.
The pandemic has had “catastrophic” consequences in the fight against tuberculosis. In 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant tuberculosis fell by 19%. In countries where the Global Fund invests, some 4.7 million people with the disease have received treatment, about one million fewer than in 2019.
Decrease in HIV testing
On the HIV front, the impact of the coronavirus is also significant. While the number of positive people receiving antiretroviral therapy continued to increase, by 9% in 2020, the number of people reached by AIDS prevention programs decreased by 11% in 2020, by 12% among younger populations. . The number of treatments given to mothers to prevent their babies from contracting the virus has fallen by 4.5%. Screening has declined by 22% overall, delaying the start of treatment in most countries.
So far, malaria control programs seem to have been less affected by Covid-19. In particular, the number of mosquito nets distributed continued to grow, by 17% in 2020. In fact, in a number of countries, volunteers engaged in the fight against the disease have abandoned distributions in large centers, which are incompatible with the pandemic. for the benefit of door-to-door. However, the number of screenings of people suspected of having malaria fell by 4.3% in 2020.