The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has cancelled its 11th funding round because of the current economic crisis.
“Substantial budget challenges in some donor countries, compounded by low interest rates have significantly affected the resources available for new grant funding,” the fund said in a statement on 23 November.
It will still provide some funding to existing projects to keep them going over the next couple of years, but will award no new grants before 2014. The fund, a public-private partnership supported by around 150 donor countries, also announced that it would create a new general manager position, taking management responsibility away from executive director Michel Kazatchkine.
The fund has been in financial trouble for some time. Last year it failed to raise the minimum $13 billion it said it needed to maintain its current programmes. And the $11.5 billion it did raise was well below its $20 billion target (see Global disease fund hit by cash crisis). This year it has been struggling with corruption and the theft of medicines (see Global disease fund must “change or wither”, says panel), causing some countries to freeze their contributions.
The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called on donor countries to ensure that the fund has enough money keep its existing programmes going, and to offer some new regular funding opportunity. “There’s a shocking incongruence between both the new HIV science and political promises on one hand, and the funding reality that is now hitting the ground on the other,” said Tido von Schoen-Angerer, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “Donors are really pulling the rug out from under people living with HIV/AIDS at precisely the time when we need to move full steam ahead and get life-saving treatment to more people.”