The Global Fund’s Executive Director Peter Sands joined the first virtual FGFJ Diet Task Force meeting to discuss the current impact of COVID-19 on AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria and the essential role of the Global Fund in the fight against the pandemic. He underscored the importance of testing as a measure to protect low-resource settings, stating “the only viable strategy is aggressively testing, tracing, and supporting people to be in isolation.” A total of 14 Diet members from across party lines attended, showing the strong interest in the fight ahead as well as Japan’s role.
Sands explained that the Global Fund has quickly responded to the pandemic through its Grant Flexibility Program, and then setting up a new funding program, the COVID-19 Response Mechanism (C19RM). These have offered a total of $1 billion in flexible funding for the COVID response and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on AIDS, TB, and malaria.
In the latter part of the session, Sands discussed the Global Fund’s role in the Access to COVID-19 Tools-Accelerator (ACT-A), a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. The Global Fund is a central player in this new initiative, serving as co-convener of both its Diagnostics Partnership—which aims to expand COVID testing capacity in low-income countries—as well as its Health Systems Connector. He underscored the importance of testing, noting, “The critical element of the strategy is providing diagnostics, helping with community-based tracing and isolation, protecting health workers with PPE, and adapting AIDS, TB, and malaria programs [to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19].”
Japan has made its largest disbursement in history this year (US$476.4 million) to fulfill its sixth replenishment pledge and it has been the fifth-largest contributor to the Global Fund to date. The co-chairs of the Diet Task Force, Hon. Ichiro Aisawa and Hon. Motohisa Furukawa, closed the meeting by expressing their commitment to support the new global initiatives such as ACT-A and the important ongoing role of the Global Fund.
The FGFJ Diet Task Force is a multi-party initiative operated by JCIE that brings together Diet members to examine ways to broaden Japan’s international role in combating the global threats of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other communicable diseases.
To read the full report, please visit the FGFJ website.