His Majesty King Mswati III, on behalf of the Kingdom of Eswatini, yesterday pledged US$6 million to the Global Fund.
In today’s exchange rate, this is about E91 million. The pledge was made at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference hosted by France President Emmanuel Macron aimed at raising US$14 billion to fund health initiatives in the fields of HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria in over 100 countries.
The target was surpassed as US$14.02 billion was raised after the pledges, thanks to pledges by President Macron, billionaire Bill Gates and Bono who, on top of a US$60 million pledge each, announced a further US$100 million commitment which they would raise during the replenishment period. The Replenishment Conference is held every three years and the current cycle will run from 2020 until 2022.
In announcing the pledge, His Majesty the King expressed gratitude to France for hosting the donor conference and seeing to it that the fight against HIV and AIDS continued. He noted how the establishment of the Global Fund had made significant impact in Africa, the Southern African region and the Kingdom of Eswatini in particular. He said prior to the establishment of the fund, many people were dying due to the lack of facilities and basic necessities required to ensure that all the people who are suffering from HIV and AIDS were taken care of.
He told the conference that there had since been a dramatic drop in the number of deaths and many lives have been saved. “The people of Eswatini owe gratitude to the Global Fund for the great work it has done in the country. This is why we want to partake and make a contribution. The Kingdom of Eswatini would like to make a contribution of US$6 million to the Global Fund,” he said to a rapturous applause. The kingdom was one of several African countries to make pledges. These include Zimbabwe, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Burundi, Uganda and South Africa.The kingdom, as a beneficiary of Global Fund assistance over the years, has received 14 grants worth more than E3, 9 billion (US$265,893,078) since 2003.
These have been spread across HIV/AIDS at US$192 644 814 (E2.9billion); TB/HIV US$16 347 645 (E245million); Tuberculosis US$35 593 268 (E534 million); Malaria US$13 094 389 (E196.4 million) and Health systems strengthening at US$8 212 962 (E123 million).
The impact of this funding, according to the Eswatini HIV Incidence Measurement Survey (SHIMS 2), has seen a drastic decline of new HIV infections in the kingdom by almost half (44%) from 2.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent among adults (ages 18-49 years). With regards to TB, the rising notification of TB cases has been halted and there has been a drop in the number of TB cases over time, since 2011, when government declared TB as an emergency.
In respect of malaria, Eswatini is at elimination stage and this would not have been possible without the support from the Global Fun, local health officials attending the conference say.
The African continent is not entirely dependent on Global Fund in addressing the health challenges. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has established an AIDS Fund where member states contribute towards its sustenance. There is also the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), which is currently chaired by His Majesty the King. The kingdom has also set up a National Malaria Fund that is supported by the public and private sectors while many other African countries are setting up similar funds to complement the support from the Global Fund.