Meeting to strengthen partnership with the Global Fund

23 July 2010

Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, met Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on 12 July at the Global Fund Secretariat’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Their discussion focused on a number of strategic areas of cooperation, particularly how to strengthen the partnership principle, which is a core priority for the Global Fund and WHO/Europe. Both are committed to continuing to strengthen their already close collaboration at both the regional and country levels. They aim to mobilize governments, civil-society organizations, the private sector and affected communities to support country stakeholders in scaling up the fight against HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in the WHO European Region. Reinforced partnership will also help accelerate progress towards achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Another key topic of discussion was the importance of sustaining progress in responding to HIV across the European Region, where prevalence remains high as a result of a high rate of new infections. Both directors agreed on the need to support evidence-based interventions that provide prevention, treatment, care and support to the populations most at risk, and to continue scaling up antiretroviral treatment.

The directors identified TB – particularly multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) – as a major challenge that required concerted efforts from both WHO and the Global Fund throughout the European Region. Europe includes 15 of the 27 countries in the world with the highest burden of MDR-TB.

Further, technical support from partners such as WHO, coupled with financial support from the Global Fund, could enable the Region to eliminate malaria as a public health threat in just a few years.

Both leaders also recognized that the response to the three diseases offered an opportunity to make progress in strengthening health systems. Other issues discussed included: strengthening country coordinating mechanisms, providing technical assistance and conducting joint advocacy efforts. In addition, Ms Jakab expressed WHO’s concerns that many countries in eastern Europe and central Asia with high MDR-TB burdens may no longer be eligible to receive Global Fund resources.

Recognizing that the WHO European Region includes both donor countries and recipient countries of the Global Fund, Professor Kazatchkine and Ms Jakab highlighted the critical importance of mobilizing financial resources from the developed countries and emerging economies in the Region and of fully replenishing the Global Fund for 2011–2013.

The two directors agreed to attend the regular meetings of each other’s governing bodies, starting with the WHO Regional Committee in Europe session in Moscow, Russian Federation in September 2010 and the Global Fund’s Board Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria in December 2010.