Thursday, October 18, 2018

Make transition plan to manage TB, malaria, HIV: Global Fund to Bangladesh

  • Nurul Islam Hasib from Guadalajara in Mexico,
    Published: 2017-10-14 01:52:00 BdST


The Global Fund that helps countries fight off TB, malaria and HIV has said Bangladesh should put a “transition plan” in place as it is going to be a middle-income country.

“It's not that Global Fund is going to phase out Bangladesh anytime soon.  But it is imperative that governments of countries like Bangladesh who are trying to attain middle-income status, work on a transition plan of how they will increase their funding,” Dr Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations of the Global Fund, said.

He was talking to on the sidelines of the biggest annual gathering on lung health at Guadalajara.

The Global Fund pool draws funds from donors and then allocates ‘eligible countries’ so they can fight against HIV, TB and malaria.

Bangladesh is one of the receipts of that fund. But a middle-income Bangladesh means lesser funds as per the Global Fund rules.

Diagnosing and treating TB patients are expensive, and that’s why it is government and donor-supported initiative to stop the infectious disease transmission by 2030.

The Bangladesh government also distributes expensive drugs free with the help of the Global Fund.

With the economic development, the government also decided to buy first-line drugs from its own domestic money to increase the national contribution over Global Fund’s money.

Dr Benn congratulated Bangladesh for the decision and said Global Fund would “continue to support Bangladesh for many years to come”.

But he warned against complacency.

“We have to find the right balance. Yes, the government will continue to increase funding, yes global fund will continue to fund. But we need to prepare ourselves for the time when Bangladesh will be in a position to support their health programmes.

“Bangladesh has a very significant economic growth. It's good to be prepared but it's not that global fund has decided to phase out Bangladesh,” he said.

He said they are also negotiation with the government to have that “transition plan”.

Earlier in the conference, Global Fund announced a partnership with the organiser, The Union, under which they will campaign for fundraising forging a broad coalition of partners beyond traditional donors.

It also announced $190 million for 13 countries including Bangladesh to help to find the “missing” people with TB using “innovative ideas”.

Dr Benn is responsible for mobilising the financial resources for programmes supported by the Global Fund through the management of its regular replenishment cycles.

He said in the last replenishment cycle meeting they had managed $13 billion for the next three years from 2018.

Bangladesh is one of the countries that will get the allocation, he said, adding that discussion was going on about the amount.

He said when it comes to TB, there are successes and challenges. And Bangladesh is a “good example” for that.

“Overall the programme is doing extremely well. Very high treatment success rate which is 90 percent and the MDR-TB treatment success rate is also high”.

But he said Bangladesh is facing challenges in finding new cases like many other countries.

“You are not finding all new cases that needed to be treated,” he said.

Every year, globally 10.4 million people become sick with TB. Of them, 40 percent do not even receive care – health systems miss them after failing to be diagnosed, treated or reported.

The result is many will die or continue to be sick and transmit the disease or, if treated with improper drugs, contribute to the growing menace of drug resistance.

“And that’s why we have set aside $190 million for TB support ‘innovative approaches’ to find out those missing cases.”

“It’s a matching fund,” he said, explaining that they would fund exactly what Bangladesh would ask for with their innovative ideas.

They would not fund for scaling up already existed programmes this time. “We are asking for innovative ideas and innovative technologies to find out those missing cases.”

“The negotiation is still going on what Bangladesh will get,” he said, adding that the funding for the missing cases will be top of the regular funds.

“It’s the most serious issue that we are discussing that we can we do to make sure to identify those patients,” he said.

“We need to reach out community health system. We need to educate community health workers. We also need to educate people.”

They are calling this “catalytic funding”.

“We want to be catalytic how new ideas can be implemented very quickly one they become very available.”

He said they would be working with the government to increase the domestic funding so that they can focus more on “catalytic initiatives” on improving awareness raising, community health, and improved diagnostic and treatment facilities for the dangerous form of TB such as MDT-TB.