From left: Ronald Bayer, professor of sociomedical scienecs, Mailman School of Public Health; Peter Piot, executive director, Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and Allan Rosenfield, dean of the Mailman School.
The Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University hosted the Second Board Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria on April 22-24. Board members and their delegations, representing countries, non-government organizations, the private sector, and people affected by these three diseases, met for three days at Faculty House to deliberate on the more than 300 grant proposals they had received.
Final decisions for the Fund's first grant awards were announced Thurs., April 25. The Board voted to commit up to $616 million over two years.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), and Malaria is an independent public-private partnership working to increase global resources to combat the three diseases which kill six million people each year. The Global Fund, created to share resources and expertise across national boundaries and private and public sectors, will direct these funds rapidly to effective prevention and treatment programs in the countries with greatest need.
"The Global Fund represents an extraordinary collaboration of governments, organizations, and people. It's an opportunity to focus resources and develop a cohesive plan to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria -- diseases that are ravaging communities and entire nations," stated Allan Rosenfield, dean of the Mailman School. "It's an honor to host the Global Fund Board for these important meetings."
Rosenfield, Columbia President George Rupp, and Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and head of the U.S. delegation to the Global Fund, hosted a welcome reception on April 22. In attendance were Board members and their delegations, local and national officials, and leaders in the global fight against AIDS. Speakers, including Rosenfield; Chrispus Kiyonga, chair of the Global Fund's Board and Minister without Portfolio of Uganda; Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS; Gro-Harlem Brundtland, director general of the World Health Organization; Carol Bellamy, director of UNICEF, and Thomas Frieden, MD/MPH '86, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health (who presented a letter from Mayor Michael Bloomberg). All expressed their support of the Global Fund's mission and stressed the urgency for action to save lives.
Of the $616 million committed, the Fund awarded a total of $378 million to 40 programs in 31 countries, and a fast-track process was put in place to approve an additional $238 million for 18 proposals, provided certain conditions are met.
The grants announced will support a wide range of programs for the three diseases, and most include both prevention and treatment components. Of the 28 countries that will receive funds to fight HIV/AIDS, 21 have grants that specifically include funding to purchase antiretroviral treatments for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Fund officials also announced the appointment of Richard Feachem as executive director of the Global Fund. Feachem, a British national, is currently founding director of the Institute for Global Health, and professor of international health at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley. Prior to this position he was director for health, nutrition and population at the World Bank.
The Mailman School works closely with the Global Fund and other international organizations in improving health care in developing countries. Among the School's many international programs is the new MTCT-Plus Initiative, an HIV/AIDS treatment program funded by multiple foundations in response to the UN Secretary General's Call to Action. MTCT-Plus, to be focused initially in sub-Saharan Africa, will work through partners already engaged in the prevention of maternal-to-child transmission (pMTCT) of HIV.
The Initiative will support the provision of HIV-specific care, including access to a number of standardized antiretroviral options when clinically indicated, to HIV-infected women and children identified in pMTCT programs, and to their HIV-infected family members as appropriate.
The MTCT-Plus Initiative aims to decrease morbidity and mortality, further reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, lessen orphanage, promote voluntary counseling and testing, and strengthen local health care capacity. It is hoped that this Initiative can provide an important first step towards greater access to HIV care in resource-limited settings, and serve as an important complement to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The funding for this five-year program is expected to total $100 million or more.